The last item of the list.
A member of my writing group said today that he had signed up for NaNoWriMo but was still undecided about participating because he didn’t like that he wasn’t allowed to edit.
At first I tried to argue with him. “Read my blog post about that very thing. Editing gets in the way of writing. The point isn’t perfection. The point is to get a first draft.”
Then, taking a different tack, “No one’s looking over your shoulder to disqualify you if you do edit.”
As my voice got shriller, I suddenly realized that I was being an idiot.
Writing isn’t about copying other people’s successful strategies. It’s about finding what works for you. NaNo works for me because it gives me an achievable goal, with a few hundred thousand other people around the globe supporting me in spirit as they take up the same challenge. I know plenty of writers who, for whatever excellent reasons, hate it.
Fine. No judgments. People wrote good stuff before Chris Baty and his colleagues turned budding authors into rheumy-eyed word hounds for a full month, and people will continue to do so. NaNoWriMo doesn’t want to kill that. It wants to encourage people who’ve been thinking about “writing a novel” (I believe there must be a billion of us by now) to finally sit down and do it by bringing that first draft into the realm of the imaginable.
So, NaNoWriMo or don’t NaNoWriMo. Edit or don’t edit. Get a critique group or be that lone artist in the attic. There is no such thing as cheating (again, excepting plagiarism) when writing a novel. There is only getting it done, whatever it takes.
Next up: NaNoWriMo Progress Reports. Don’t know when, don’t know how many — let’s just say at some point next month you’ll be hearing from me.