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NaNoWriMo Tip #2 – Don’t Edit

O.K. You’ve fired up your word processor, or you’ve pulled out your trusty notebook, and you are adding words to your story. To stay on track, you need 1,500 words per day (or 2,000 words per day, if you are shooting for a 60,000 word novel). Success in , is coming!

In order to get back into the flow of your novel, it is common practice to reread some of the pages you wrote the day before. When doing so, you’ll be tempted to edit. Don’t.

Don’t Edit During NaNoWriMo

Editing is an important part of writing anything, including a novel. And, you will edit your novel, just not now. You don’t have time right now.

Editing is good, but not when you are racing to complete a novel in a crazy amount of time.

It is important to remember that writing an entire novel in a month is not standard operating procedure. You won’t find a lot of published authors out there giving interviews talking about how their recent hit novel was completed in just over 4 weeks. NaNoWriMo is a social game. It’s a way to take the world of writers, and would-be writers, and put them altogether for fun, and hopefully success.

Much like those programs where the mayor picks a book for the whole city to read during the same month, this isn’t the regular state of affairs. Instead, it’s a way to spark some interest, and hopefully, jump start your creative process in a way that is fun and interesting.

Writing a novel is normally a marathon, but NaNoWriMo is a sprint.

Typically, editing, and reviewing your manuscript and delving into scenes and character development that you know won’t make the actual book are a great way to both stay on course, and continue to improve your work. However, this is the marathon novel writing process, not the sprint process.

During a marathon, grabbing a drink of water is a crucial, if not necessary, task to stay hydrated and function during your hours long run. But, grabbing a drink during a 100-yard dash is a foolish distraction that will only slow you down, and cause you to finish much slower than you could have.

During NaNoWriMo, going back and editing your words is grabbing a drink during the 100-yard dash. Don’t do it. Put your head down and keep moving forward.

NaNoWriMo Isn’t the End

Remember, the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to create a FIRST DRAFT of your novel, not a submission ready copy. On December 1st, when your novel is complete, you’ll crack it back open at the first page and dig back in. In fact, they maybe should make December, National Novel Editing Month.

You’ll need to do a lot more than just basic edits. Chances are that crucial plot points aren’t as strong as they should be. Characters may be unwieldy, or under developed. Oh, and the typos. There will be so many typos, and grammar errors, and punctuation problems, and did you really leave something-something as the name of the crucial city the characters must travel to? There may be entire scenes that you thought you wrote, but didn’t.

In other words, it will be a mess, and a bigger mess than a normal first draft might be. But, the most important thing will be that you have completed a novel. If this is your first one, trust me, it’s a much bigger deal than you may know. Like so many other things in life, once you’ve done it once, it is so much easier to do it again.

So, leave the stilted dialog alone. Ignore the Sheriff’s funny name. Move forward. Keep writing. Log that word count. Live to edit another day.

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