My Slow Yet Serious Attempt at NaNoWriMo (or Why I Rewrite as I Go)

My attempt at NaNoWriMo has been slow-going so far this month, but I don’t see that as a failure yet—and I won’t let myself see it as a failure if I (when I) reach November 30 without 50,000 words. (Remind me I said that.)

It’s the determination and the push to get out more words that’s worth it to me… and I’m excited about the words I do have. I’m just not one of those writers who can shove herself ahead to simply get words, any words whatsoever, down on the page so they count in my total for the day. I’ve been told again and again on Twitter that I should keep writing and not look back until next month, but I do look back and here’s why:

For me, writing is rewriting. The first words I slap down are not always the words that stay… they are often very close… but I can feel other words, better words, itching underneath them. I can’t move on when I feel that itch. While my thought is fresh, I want to keep at it until I can bring the other words—the true words—to light.

So I circle in, recasting and revamping and reordering and changing and cutting and expanding and shaping… and then I have a paragraph. A good and worthy paragraph. Many times, if the carving went very well, a paragraph could stay virtually intact into the final draft of my manuscript. I do force myself to let go and move on, or else I’d never finish more than a page. But after years of writing fiction—and after an actual, solid attempt at NaNoWriMo for real, one that ended with about 40,000 words trashed forever into the abyss where bad, ugly novel drafts go—I’ve realized that this is how I write…

In circles.

It’s annoying, sure. It’s not the fastest way, I realize. But it feels good to write this way—it feels right.

So that’s why, as of this blog post, I have only logged 3,463 words for my new novel in the first five days of this month. (In truth, I’ve typed many more words than that… I just cut a lot, too.)

Do I sound defensive? I don’t mean to. I just wanted to explain.

* Why then am I signed up for NaNoWriMo if I refuse to write the way I’m supposed to, you ask? For motivation mainly. Also for fun. Besides, I like connecting with other writers who are also buried in novels this month, as, like I said before, writing a book can be a lonely pursuit and it’s nice to know I’m not all alone in this. That’s part of why I’ve enjoyed writing dates lately… writing with other writers tends to motivate me… which is a whole other blog post.

Before I go, I don’t know if you’ve been following my blog this month, but if you’re a writer I hope you will. The theme is “What Inspires You?” and I’ve asked writers to guest blog on their writing inspirations. So far you can read about what inspires Lisa Schroeder, Tara Altebrando, and Bryan Bliss—and there are more posts coming next week.

One last thing: My “What Scares You?” book giveaway—you could win prize packs of books, some donated from Penguin and some signed by authors—closes on Monday. You still have time to enter the giveaway RIGHT HERE.

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