I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year.
I wish I was. I love doing it, it’s communal, high energy, fast-paced. It’s about as close to an adrenaline hit as you can get sitting alone pouring words into a keyboard.
Writing is generally a pretty lonely activity, especially considering the amount of characters rocking around inside the writer’s head at any given time, and I enjoy the sense of doing something that so many others are involved in at the same time. I love the steadily rising graphs of the NaNo website, the way my social media feeds fill with writing friends and acquaintances calling out word counts, or calling for comfort when unable to raise their word count. For one thing it never fails to highlight for me is the differing work styles of different writers, and that there is no one right way to write, so to speak.
I have friends who get stressed in NaNo. Who find it extremely difficult to get that many words in that short a time. These are writers I admire very much, wonderful writers who enjoy great successes, and for whom anything more than a few hundred words a day is unthinkable. Others who can put out the words, but can’t leave them, who must edit as they go. Some for whom simply being involved, with a deadline, is a source of stress.
But NaNoWriMo suits me. It suits my writing style. I’m a pump-out-the-words in a bad first draft kind of girl. Knocking of 50k in a month doesn’t worry me, it’s pretty much how I usually work in first drafts.
Editing. Redrafting. Rewriting. That’s a whole other story.
Which is why I’ve committed to giving NaNo a pass this year, as much as I’d love to be pumping out a new draft manuscript along with everyone else. Because it’s relatively easy for me to get the word count up, I’m perfectly happy to write badly and get a dreadful ‘zero’ draft onto paper. I can put down several thousand words a day in that initial zero draft. They’re practically unreadable, but they’re there.
When editing, however, I’m lucky if I get 400 every second day, maybe. See, it’s turning that dreadful zero draft into something readable by anybody else that I find tough. But that’s where the real writing happens, in the rewrites, the drafting, the edits. That’s where the hard work comes.
And that’s what I’m in the middle of right now. Redrafts, edits. Turning a bad (very bad) first draft into something readable. Sweating over the keyboard and inching through, bit by bit. And its *hard*.
It would be tempting to lose myself in another first draft, I have a project waiting to go for it and all. But writing isn’t just about getting words down on the page. It’s about making sure those words are the best words, in the best order, for what you want to communicate to the reader, and that only happens with editing, redrafting, rewriting. With damn hard work.
So good luck to everyone doing NaNoWriMo this year. Wish I was with you. I’ll be cheering from the sidelines. And hopefully will be back next year.
Until then, back to the editing…