Congratulations! If you’re bothering to read this then you must have survived the second week of NaNoWriMo. Keep going, no matter your word count. It’s about building your skill more than numbers. Some quit when they can’t achieve the mythical perfect first draft.
It can come at you many different ways.
Perhaps you’re a pantser who believes the perfect inspiration will strike, that you’ll start pounding the keys and the greatest novel of our time will appear? Oh, but then the story becomes a mosquito riddled slog through an endless bog. The story wilts. The muse runs off. If the draft isn’t perfect the idea must not be worthy and so the search begins for a different story.
The other end of the spectrum?
Perhaps you’re a plotter who spent weeks, months setting out the perfect story? Character sketches. Character interviews. Character narratives. Characters over for dinner. It was the fool proof approach, except the characters thumbed their noses at you and car pooled to Cleveland when you were writing a medieval fantasy. Was there ever more ungrateful characters? After all that nurturing, too!
It’s strange, but I think I’ve faced both those scenarios at one point or another. Kinda creepy.
Bottom line is there’s no perfect first draft because there’s no substitute for the editing process.
Editing hones the story. Theme comes alive. Characters grow into themselves. The magic happens. The novel drafted in weeks will take far longer to edit, and that isn’t counting the time it spends marinating in the drawer between edits.
Here’s my big revelation: The minute I accepted editing (even began to appreciate and enjoy it) the easier it became to draft. It was a relief. I was free! I could drive from coast-to-coast without a single stop light. The weight was off my shoulders.
I didn’t have to be perfect!
This year’s NaNo draft is no different. There are some inspired moments in it, but quite frankly a lot of it is crap writing. Yet, for my needs—it’s perfect! I can already see how it’ll become more than I’d hoped for, and that’s freedom.
I’ve also done something this year I’ve never done before. I abandoned chapters. I structured the story and figured out approximate chapters when I drafted the narrative outline, but soon into the story’s draft I abandoned them. Too constricting this time. I tend to unnecessarily worry about proper/average/consistent chapter length (as if such a thing exists). This year, I let it all go. I’ll worry about it later. I’ve never done that before, and it wasn’t planned. Just happened.
I may hate myself later, but I’ll worry about that later, too. For now, I want the draft done this month. I’m on track to make that happen.
It’s taken me years to relax while drafting (Scrivener helps make it possible), and some of my ideas might be the wrong path for others. But, guess what? Freedom. Yours. Mine. Going with the flow.
Do what feels right to you. Just get it done and don’t give up. Keep writing.