Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, October 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo Boot Camp: Editing As You Go

As I mentioned yesterday, I am definitely of the opinion that it usually pays to get something-anything on the page and to try and revise later, on the grounds that it's much easier to revise and polish than to conjure out of thin air.

But one very real potential dark side of NaNoWriMo is abandoning self-editing in the name of racking up words.

Some people actually need to shut off the self-editing switch because it's easy to fall in a state of paralysis when trying to write a polished final draft on the very first try. Letting go and just letting the words flow can be freeing.

But abandon all hope ye who completely abandon self-editing. And there's a very simple reason for this: problems can snowball. A problem that is brushed over in the first few chapters can progress from there and worm its way through the novel in such a way that it can become very very difficult to fix later on. You can't build a house on a creaky foundation.

It is definitely good to get words on the page, provided overall things are working. And how do you know if things are working overall?

It's tough for everyone to be a self-aware writer and to spot your own flaws. But stopping, thinking, trying to imagine yourself as a reader, remembering the writing advice you know, and asking yourself very honestly, "Is this working?" is absolutely crucial.

And chances are you know when things aren't working. There will be a quiet, tiny nagging voice that you're shutting off or deciding not to worry about for now. It usually manifests itself as a sneaking suspicion.

Listen to The Voice, which speaks quietly and almost imperceptibly. The Voice sounds way more like, "Um...Hi! So sorry to bug you, I mean, only if you want to listen, but um, well, are you sure about the cow aliens? I can wait..." than "Duh! Wake up, this is wrong!"

If only The Voice were more assertive.

So yes. Get those words down, keep on plugging away. But don't stop editing as you go. And listen to The Voice.






70 comments:

WritersBlockNZ said...

Sometimes a bit of self-editing during NaNo actually helps me get more words out because it often helps me come up with ideas for subplots. Getting the balance right is difficult though.

Crazy Cat Lady said...

I'd say editing as you go can serve a purpose, to avoid snags that will drag you down and get you stuck later on. However, my advice has always been to always save the words. Even if you go back and edit, use strike out or different highlights to cross out what you don't like but DON'T DELETE.

You never know when those couple of thousand words you want to cut may come in handy in the validation stage. So, edit, but don't delete is my take on it. =)

Kristal Shaff said...

This is so true. If I write muck for too long, I totally lose my drive. A problem snowballs into another problem that turns into an avalanche. In the end, it is a lot more work than if I'd just fixed some bits here and there to begin with.

I'm in the middle of a project, so I won't "officially" do the NaNo thing. But I'm going to try and get this draft done during that time.

Amanda C. Davis said...

Well, listening to the voice early on is a good way to write better books, but it's a GREAT way to lose NaNo.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I definitely fall prey to the self-editing spiral of doom. It's a bit like doodling in the edge of a notebook - you can keep doing it indefinitely without really noticing how much time you've burned.

In the case of something like Nano, when you don't really want to bog down on the edits while writing, you can either download something like the virtual typewriter from Liquid Story Binder, which works exactly like a typewriter and will not allow you to backspace or go back and insert new text into a section that's already been written (This works well for those who want to force themselves to write, write, write, and not look back.) I've used this, and it takes some serious getting used to (especially if you set it to "motivate" - stop writing for too long, and it will unspool your lines by deleting your words.)

Or

You can try dedicating a half hour or hour window in the evening to surface edits so you adjust a few major things that you pick up on a skim read. This way, your internal editor will feel useful, and you don't have to worry about burning too much time tweaking your prose.

Anonymous said...

But, Nathan(Inner Editor,I mean),

I LOOOOVE my cow aliens!!

(sigh)


word verification: sever

T. Anne said...

This is great! I always do light editing as I go and I'm thankful for it when I get into real edits later. And yes! Always listen to your internal editor. When something doesn't feel right, it probably needs to be addressed right away. Thanks for the advice Sergeant Bransford! I can't wait to let the words fly November 1st. (even if I am just continuing my WIP. No new WIP = NaNo rebel)

MBee said...

I will know as I go (for the most part) if there's a major plot hole/issue. That I will go back and fix. Can't move forward with that kind of issue. I tend to re-read the last few paragraphs from the previous day before I start writing. If I notice a typo I might stop to fix it, but I don't dwell on it. Any major revisions (making that first paragraph pull the reader in) waits until at least December.

Anonymous said...

The absolute worst thing I did my first NANOWRIMO was NOT spell-check.

I was typing so fast that all my words were missing vowels or strung together and had so many mistakes that my spell-check program actually checked out. (couldn't take no more)

It took me six weeks (eeeeck!) to JUST spell-check my novel later.

Now, I spell-check every time I open any novel I am writing. It's not a full editing - but, it really eases the pain later (six weeks is VERY painful)and rereading what I've written before is also helpful in so many ways too.

D.G. Hudson said...

Thanks for saying that, Nathan, I'm one of those who can't shut off the self-editor and I appreciate that you see the value in listening to our inner voice.

I try not to get the paralysis you mention, but I do leave myself copious notes in any part of the novel if I know (that inner voice) that it may need more work. I work in chapters more than in a free-fall run like Nano, and the notes remind me of where editing is needed. I use NewNovelist (UK)for writing the novel and keep the notes in one of the sidebars which expand or collapse as needed.

Once again, this is great advice for all writers.

Jill said...

No, no, no, Nathan ... I totally (but lovingly) disagree. For Nano, turn off that inner editor and just get it done.

A space cow is easy to fix, but an unwritten book is impossible to edit.

Now, if you're not doing Nano, and you're all "publishy" and such, why yes, keep hold of the inner editor. But Nano requires huge helpings of crazy, and ignoring The Voice is just one of insanity's incarnations.

Sierra McConnell said...

This is what notepad is for. If it doesn't feel right, cut it out and stash it in notepad. You've got it out of the main MS, but you can tack it on the end for verification and wordcount!

You did write it during NaNo, after all, and it did help you with the characters and the building. It's all about the words.

The Inner Editor they're talking about, isn't so much the voice of 'are you sure ninjas would be breaking into Victorian England'. But the one that sits there going 'no comma there', 'no space there', 'stop using passive voice', 'your doing that twang thing again, 'you need to remember what that one guy said about saying this'.

GAH! That's the Inner Editor that you shut up, lock in a box, and freeze like an overcharged credit card. You don't need them sitting there wrecking the flow. Because the last thing you need is constant frustration when all you want to do is write, "My name is Bradley, I'm fifteen years old, and last week, I died."

Because the minute I write that, my Inner Editor is going to say, "What, that's you're opening line? What the heck is that?"

[headdesk]

Anonymous said...

I say write the 2k words first and edit those words before calling it a night. But don't spend an hour editing the first hundred words you write.

The Write Owl said...

I'm with Crazy Cat Lady on this: Highlight, but don't delete. The easiest way to discourage yourself is to realize you've taken a wrong turn and delete five days worth of progress, cutting 20 pages from your novel. And if you delete, you may have lost some little detail worth holding onto.

The principle behind NaNoWriMo is to challenge yourself to finish writing an entire novel in a month, accepting the wadded up rejected pages as part of the process. It is a discovery draft, an experiment to test your subconscious under pressure.

My advice, as I enter my fourth year myself, is to avoid becoming attached to anything that happens. The purpose of the NaNo draft is to get it on paper and fix it later. If the first four chapters don't work, assume that they have and start Chapter 5 where you think it should start. Highlight the previous chapters and note your changes. Or work the rewrites in as you go.

My novels have name changes of characters halfway through when I realize their names aren't working. If I don't like a character, I type "[insert name] died of [something fun] and was forgotten," and then move on. If something goes wrong, I type that it was a dream, or it was magically fixed and ignore that it ever happened. Boosting my word count, correcting my plotline, and saving my sanity, all in one fell swoop.

Besides, no one ever said you had to write your novel in order.

Claudie A. said...

This is why I outline so much before NaNo. The outline serves as a barrier. If I cross it, a bright red light turns up in my head, and a high-pitched voice screams "WARNING! WARNING!". My Voice is quite assertive. ;)

A good outline, with the major plot points lined up, is a great way to avoid many of the snags that come with too many words, too fast.

CB said...

I agree with Crazy Cat Lady! I developed that idea of not deleting just this pat summer. I hadn't heard anyone else say that prior to this post. While I was working on a story this past summer, I found myself increasing the size dramatically (kids chapter book, so I'm talking only a couple thousand words!) and so I figured it would be best to start new files with stuff I was deleting from the working piece. It was such a great safety net. And while I don't think I used much from the stuff that was saved to new files, I'm pretty sure just going through it from time to time helped me with new ideas.
As far as being a good editor during the creative process, I'm not. Fortunately, I write short fiction, so far!!
Everyone's style is different. Advice from pros like you is always good and very welcome, but each of us has to find what works best for us, individually. For me, I hired a professional editor to help me with the final product. I'm more than okay with that. In fact, I believe my creative side went nuts, (in a good way) once I had a pro on board. It was very freeing and more than worth it. As an added bonus, I got some valuable lessons from a master! A wonderful experience and one I wouldn't mind repeating!

evelonies said...

i self edit each time i write. i leave things as is (unless there's a huge, glaring problem i can fix right away) for the time being, then the next time i write, i reread what i wrote the last time. it takes about 10-15 minutes most days, and i can polish things up quickly while getting back into the right mind frame to write well. this works very well for me; b/c of this process, my first drafts tend to be very grammatically correct. i sometimes have plot issues or things that need clarifying, but in general, it's very helpful.

lahn said...

Darn it! I like those cow aliens! And they TOTALLY make sense with the space monkeys.
Thanks for another great post. :)

ed miracle said...

Nathan, We who are about to lie salute you!

BTW, has NaNoWriMo produced any works that Made It Big?

The Write Owl said...

Published NaNo Novels: http://www.nanowrimo.org/publishedwrimos

Water for Elephants, among others.

Reesha said...

Hi there, Nathan.
I'm finding your NaNo boot camp very interesting and somewhat helpful.
Which is ironic considering you've never done NaNoWriMo before. (At least I think that's what you said in a recent post.)
Do you think you'll ever participate in a NaNoWriMo in the future?

Steppe said...

Hi my name is Rummy and I am Steppe's Voice. (Hi Rummy!!!) Technically I am a porcelain figurine of eight point five noblesse oblige inches of mighty bear-mold oven baked, hand painted stature, that someone once imagined should become a piggy bank. I like kids, so don't get me wrong; but the piggy bank racket was not for me. I sport my dull green fedora with a blue band over an eye patch and red and white checkered kerchief around my neck that can easily be raised when making a bold escape from a caper. Truth be told I am a small bear who found work as a savvy literary critic and reluctant line editor (Spiy) I keep the boss on track and I get to call him "kid" a lot. When I got this job I asked about my predecessor (The Previous Voice) but I am still waiting for some definite clue as to the outcome of that mystery. I forgot to mention I wear a thick belt with a six gun on my right side. My right hand is raised to gently clutch my fedora in a perpetual tip of the hat to the kid (ahem) Boss. my left arm is riding low carrying a satchel of money with a gigantic cash sign on it. If I play my cards right the cash sign should wear off eventually or I'll get the Kid to see my point of view and paint over that blatantly visual display of eternal insouciance. My pants ride low over stubby black boots. Well fellow travelers in The Voice racket all I can say is no snot nosed punk ever slid a nickel dime or quarter in my back. How about you? Things get rough sometimes? That's why I have the gun and money bag and the kid has the laptop. When he starts badgering me with the "your really a raccoon or a mouse or a ferret pretending to be a bear" routine I cut him some slack and clam up until he stops pouting.
Being A Voice is an honest living and I am always ready to return to a life of crime if required. I'm flexible as long as I have the gun and he has the laptop. I'm still wondering about the previous Voice though. Rumor has it in old days of typewriters he had an Orange Orangutan with spectacles that fell of a shelf after being brutally stuffed to death with story notes. The final note read. "I know the rules." The always whispering legends in Voice land say that's the day the monkey died. Some say he fell off a shelf. Others say he jumped. Hmmmmm. I like the kid and the editor gig but I'm keeping the gun. It's part of the deal. Well... All allegories have a beginning middle and an end. Good luck fellow Voices.

Bransford, thanks for getting the kid to put me back on the desk. Slick play.

wonderer said...

During NaNo, I use strikeout for chunks that aren't working. I use spell check and will sometimes go back and tweak grammar or add words...but as Sierra said, my Inner Editor is the one that likes to jump on style issues, so I'm careful not to give it free rein.

I wish my Voice were louder. It doesn't get loud enough to hear until midway through editing when I realize why I've been having so much trouble.

heather said...

So wait, are cow aliens wrong???

hannah said...

I've written over 20 manuscripts, and at this point I have almost a sixth sense that tells me whether or not something's working. How to fix it is another matter entirely (reason #456 that I'm glad to have a great agent!) but I can usually catch the story before it veers very far off-track. So just a matter of practice for me, I guess.

Jeffrey Beesler said...

All I ever seem to do anymore these days is edit. I won't forget the importance of editing time and again, but right now I just want to reward myself with something fun and freeing.

I know there'll come a point when I'll have to edit the heck outta the blasted thing, but sometimes I just have to cut loose and enjoy every experience that I can.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha funny! Have you been to Vermont after reading Van Buren and Jules Verne?

Gina said...

I'm in awe that people actually do this. It took me four months to complete a draft of word vomit, forget one. Then, I went away for a week, stewed over it, and practically re-wrote the whole thing when I got back. Best wishes to all attempting NaNo!

Marilyn Peake said...

Great post! That’s exactly why I’m not promising myself to finish my NaNoWriMo novel in one month. I’m not going to turn off my self-editor. Years ago, when I was on an even tighter schedule than I am now, I found it much more efficient to edit as I went along than to get stuck and have to undo a lot of writing. Even in regard to smaller details like grammar, imagery and the language of each sentence, if I edit as I go along, I’m able to get a kind of momentum going where each sentence adds to the earlier sentences. It’s worth it to me to work like that.

For example, the revised beginning – a kind of introductory heading – to my science fiction novel slowed me down quite a bit because I had to translate regular time into UTC time to make the military events sound realistic, research where on Earth space elevators are most likely to be structurally sound, then look up places along the Equator after discovering that the architectural requirements of space hotels are met only by the physical dynamics along the Equator or within 20 degrees from the Equator. This was all for a brief introductory heading at the beginning of the novel, but the research helped me to avoid going off in directions that wouldn’t be believable.

Marilyn Peake said...

The Write Owl -

I checked out that link. Wow, amazing that WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was orginally written as a NaNoWriMo novel! Also, there are a lot of published books on that list of books written in NaNoWriMo. Impressive!

Jaycee Adams said...

A trick I've come up with is: if you discover you've got to make some changes, make some quick notes about what the changes are and at what point in the story you made such changes, and then continue writing as if the changes have already been made. You can then go back later and check your notes and make the necessary changes.

J. T. Shea said...

'Get something-anything on the page and...try to revise it later...' Useful, but doesn't work on beer stains. I've tried.

Anonymous 12:19 pm and Iahn and Heather, Nathan's novel was originally titled JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE COW, but the publisher thought that sounded a bit cheesy...

As for the Inner Editor, I hear there's now a simple operation to get it surgically removed.

Marilyn Peake, you mean a space elevator can be up to 20 degrees north or south of the equator? Yikes! So I shouldn't have bought all that real estate on Howland Baker Island after all. Damn!

Claire Farrell said...

I'm kind of on the fence. For me, Nanowrimo was just wanted I needed to let go of the self-editor. I feel like I can fix anything later, as long as I don't get too attached. :)

I will red flag something that doesn't feel right but I think the more I write, the easier that is for me to figure out - if that makes sense.

The Dublin ML always encourages us not to delete a word but to keep on writing. I have to delete some words (can't help myself) but I won't go over a paragraph constantly until I've sucked the life out of it (at least not until December. :D )

Rick Fry said...

I like the boot camp. Thirty jumping-jacks of plot twist, twenty push-ups of character development (protag development, that is, not my own), and running five miles of insecurity and self-doubt. I'm ready!

Claire Farrell said...

*just what I needed* even - and the self editing holiday has already begun apparently. :)

ryan field said...

And you can look at it this way, too. Before mss were submitted as Word Docs, and before there were computers, most edits turned into complete re-writes. And that was arduous. So the fact that it's so easy to edit while you're working nowadays is an incentive...or should be.

Marilyn Peake said...

J. T. –

Ooooops. Guess you should have left that island uninhabited. :)

Wendy C. Allen a.k.a. EelKat said...

I think if you are used to writing daily than editing as you go won't be a big deal, however I also think for people who've never written daily before, editing can be a major stumbling block. I suppose it's a case of what works for one guy may not work for the next, really.

Kristi Helvig said...

My inner editor tells me that cow aliens are always a no, but space monkeys rule!

Stephanie said...

I always self-edit. Maybe sometimes a little too much but after each chapter I write, I go back reread, edit and play around with it until I am happy. I don't think it slows me down but inspires me to write more.

The Daring Novelist said...

That's why, when I do something like NaNoWriMo, I like to skip around and I have no fear of changing the story mid-stream (put in a note in the earlier chapter - "no alien cows" - and just move on.

However, it's also why I don't like to do things like NaNoWriMo to their rules. I prefer to shift into high gear on something that's READY to shift into high gear - which may mean the exploratory writing is already done.

~ said...

Great advice... thank you

Jan Markley said...

Good point Nathan. If you think you'll come back and fix it, you probably won't. Fix as you go and build that strong foundation!

Mira said...

sheesh. Can I just say, totally off topic, that I hate being so busy? It's midterms, and I am sooooo busy and working really hard. Hate that. I'm not like you, Nathan. I need my sit and stare at the walls time, or I get g-r-u-m-p-y. Blech.

I hope you all appreciate it - my working so hard and being so busy. Not that it has anything to do with you, I just feel like being appreciated.

Speaking of which, I appreciate this post. Very good, subtle advice. The problem is finding a balance between powering through and knowing when you're powering in the wrong direction. The other tricky thing is knowing the difference between that quiet voice that says: 'something's off here' and that blaring voice that screams 'who are you to write ANYTHING???????'

Maybe the volume of the voice might be a tip off, I don't know.

But learning the difference between those things is well worth the effort.

Okay, I'm off to be grumpy, I mean, work so more. Toodles.
(yes, I said toodles, leave me alone, I'm g-r-u-m-p-y).

hannah said...

Oh, one more thing--since I tend (and by tend I mean...always) underwrite, editing for me most of the time just means going back and adding words. And I tend to do that as I go, a bit. Every day when I first start, I'll go back over what I wrote the last day and add words wherever I can. This does three things:

1. Gets me more words. Score.

2. Makes that bit stronger.

3. Gets me back into the feel of the story in a no-stress way. I don't have to be thinking of new stuff, I'm just adding to what's already there, which is much easier. Building up strength before I dive back in.

Anna said...

For those of you, like me, who have a devil of a time just pumping out words, open a seperate document to keep the cow aliens. That way, it won't get in the way of your main draft, but if you decide to use the material later, it won't have disappeared. I find this step is essential in mediating the self-edit dragons.

Becca said...

Thank you. That makes so much sense.I really have to be an edit-as-I-go writer. I did a shorter (3 day) writing challenge, and although I finished my book, I noticed that in my rush, my manuscript had some serious holes. Good luck to all the NaNWriMo writers out there, but I think I'll stick to my usual schedule.

chrisd said...

Nathan, I respectfully disagree.

My self editor is also a terrible critic. If I don't tell my self editor to shut it, I'm doomed.

But I agree about listening to that voice that tells you to wait a minute. If the story is going off and you know it, then yes--make notes, highlight, but keep writing. Don't stop. Don't delete. Just keep writing.

Peter Dudley said...

I find my subconscious works overtime. Often, when I wander off plan with a manuscript (particularly in the madness of nano), later I find things come together in ways I didn't anticipate at first.

Nano is, yes, about getting a book written. But it's also about trusting your muse and getting beyond those initial barriers. You just might find that where your frenzied composition takes you is a more satisfying place than where you originally planned.

Rachel said...

I've done Nanowrimo four times, and I think I'm three for four on having to go back and make a major change before continuing on. It seems to happen about once per November.

One year, the going back meant giving up on Novel #1 and writing Novel #2 instead.

Last year, I went to move on to the next scene, and realized that things would work so much better moving forward if I changed the previous scene. (I got an important subplot started that way.) I un-wrote so many words that day that my net wordcount gain was something like 36 words, even though I'd probably written a good 3,000 or so just to get back to where I'd been up to.

My policy is that I will only do that if I need to for the sake of the big picture moving forward. (space cows would probably qualify.) I don't play with words or phrases once I move on to the next paragraph, unless I see a silly typo. With anything more minor, I write myself a note for later.

Of course, as I go back and revise previous novels, I've found that the second draft usually requires major restructuring - but for me, it's easier to do that after I've had some time away from it all anyway.

Vicky said...

Reading everyone else's comments, I think there's a balance that needs to be struck. In the YA I just finished, I promised myself, I would not go back and edit the small stuff, but I would go back and add and delete passages as necessary. In fact, what happened was, as "I need to change that" ideas popped into my head, I'd simply insert them in CAPS in the first draft passage I was working on (even if they referred to three chapters previously) and keep plugging ahead on drafting. The result was that I was infinitely more productive, while at the same time satisfying the obsessive voice in the back of my head that said, "If you don't change that NOW you're going to forget it."

Sheila Cull said...

NaNoWriMo makes no sense to me at all.

"You won't believe it! It was NaNoWriMo, as in month, and not only did I finally get started, I got published and will be in Borders soon! All because of NaNoWriMo. If it weren't for that."

"Are you high?" The reasonable person asked.

Elaine AM Smith said...

But my therapist says I must ignore the voices in my head. We can never get everything right, can we? Nope, we thought not ;)

Ishta Mercurio said...

This is a really good point. I think the trick is in knowing how much to self-edit. Are you going back and changing "house" to "home"? Probably a waste of time at this stage. But are you realising that the story would work better if you removed the secondary love interest? That's a major plot-point, and you don't want to write a whole draft based on a premise that isn't working, so if your inner editor is talking to you, you should listen.

Good food for thought.

Jen P said...

Does 'the Voice' work with "you don't need any more shoes or that last piece of chocolate cake," too?

I just bought 'the t-shirt' making a contribution to NaNoWriMo - now I *have* to take part.

(busy looking for the minor-edits-managing-otherwise-known-as-procrastination-monster off switch...)

Cassandra Frear said...

Wise perspective. It does depend on the writer.

I've been working on a manuscript with an editor I trust. He understands the rough draft phase, so he isn't overworking my pages. But his feedback is important.

Seeking input as I go keeps the project from straying into a bad place and getting lost there!

Chuck H. said...

So, you're saying it's okay to listen to the voices? Allllll Riiiiight!!!!! Excuse me, I'll talk to you later. I have somebody--er, I mean something to attend to.

Rane Anderson said...

This is exactly why I don't participate in NaNo. One of the perks of the competition is to be able to say at the end, "I did it! I wrote a novel in a month!" But, I know if I wrote a novel in a month, I'd retire it to a shoebox and leave it for dead under my bed. I like to self-edit as I go. It makes for a much less challenging rewrite.

Draven Ames said...

I would self edit at the end of each chapter, if I had it to do all over again. Sometimes, like you said, a small plot hole can turn into a gaping cavern, leaving rewrites as your treat. Smart advice.

stacy said...

The only problem with that is that the edits I make tend to be major changes in which I have to go back and change a bunch of other stuff and pretty soon I've written myself into the proverbial corner and gaaaahhhhh.

It drives me crazy just thinking about it. If you have any suggestions for me avoiding that (besides not writing all together), I'd appreciate it.

Pete Pescatore said...

Listen to the voice, fine, but what if there are several? If you start listening to them all you go nuts. People demanding space on the page, your Aunt Vera for example, back from the grave & trying to wrest control of the plot--at some point you have to tell her to take a hike or she and her ilk will hijack the whole thing and you'll be left with a bunch of incomplete and incompatible stories instead of one finished first draft. So my view is, try and stick with one main character and what s/he wants and have the character deal with the usurpers.

Miss Aspirant said...

Hi, Nathan. Great series of posts. I haven't had much luck at NANO, although I do get a good chunk of work done each year on this or that project.

As to inner editor itis, even when I write a first draft during a NANO, I edit last thing and first thing, that way it gets at least two full edits a day. Outside of NANO, I tend to over edit, spending enormous amounts of time going over the same material, with the thought that if I can get it right, I can then move on. I know I should just do a surface edit and save my energy for just getting the story down, but it's hard.

Author Guy said...

Just so you know, there is a perfectly marvelous YA scifi story about a boy who inherits a starship and has to head off an invasion of Earth by a race of Killer Cows. It's called Killer Cows, by Dave Anderson.

Stephanie said...

I've discovered my best way of doing NaNo is to start each day's writing by reading what I wrote the day before. (I limit myself to one day's reading for time and limit the urge to edit too much.) This keeps me focused on the story while eliminating issues before they become major issues in a completely first draft.

stacy said...

That's good advice, Stephanie. I shall try that.

J. T. Shea said...

In the movie MARS ATTACKS! the Martians set a whole herd of (earth) cows on fire. Though at least they didn't rape them or stampede them through the Vatican (as far as I know).

dana said...

My gift for self-editing only gets to the "WTF is WRONG with this!" point. But I am learning to do a search and destroy where the word "had" is concerned.

I now need to stop the humiliating habit of adding every adjective I know to help describe a snowflake. I must learn to just say "it's white, cold,and tiny." and be done with it.

Donea Lee said...

Hi Nathan - long-time follower, first-time commenter here... :) Great advice, though. It's taken me years to get through even a first draft. I think I over-self-edit - trying to make the little things just perfect (like the first 10 pages) before I move on. But, I'm trying to adopt of healthy mix of just getting it on the page and spot-checking here and there until it's done. But, going to take the Nano challenge on a newer project. I think it will help me get past the whole "it just takes to long" mentality I seem to have... thanks!

Morgan said...

I'm glad to see someone NOT hating on self-editing. I definitely still self-edit during NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words are useless if they don't make sense. I also like rereading my words to get back in the "mood" of the story, and I absolutely can't reread without editing. It's my job.

The trick is not to get consumed with editing. Edit for a few minutes, then go back to writing. Writing is the focus!

Rebekah Ruth said...

Oh I'm sooo glad I just read this post. I joined NoNoWriMo last night at about 11:30 pm. I hadn't planned it ahead of time so I feel behind the game. But I wanted a jump start to write my second novel.

When I read that you weren't supposed to edit, I got a little freaked out. I finished 1800 words this morning but I found it incredibly distracting to NOT edit. I need to edit as I go through. It's part of my writing process and it helps me write more! I don't get bogged down by it. I enjoy it and still put out plenty of words. So this was just the permission I needed.

I feel so much better now. :)

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