On this date last year, I had churned out roughly 8477 words on my novel. I had plunged into NaNoWriMo with both feet, and wrote up a storm. My personal goal at the time wasn’t so much as to write 50,000 words, but to see how many chapters of my book I could write. In November 2006, I wrote about 8-1/2 chapter worth of words.
One year later, exactly, I’ve stripped nearly all of those chapters out.
It was bound to happen. After I finished writing the book, I assessed what needed to stay and what needed to go. There was a whole subplot that I felt could be assimilated somewhere else, so it needed to go because it was bogging down the story. Ironically, these were the same chapters I wrote during NaNoWriMo.
Does that mean that I wasted all that time last year? Put all that effort and energy into something that I wouldn’t even use in the final project? What’s the point of NaNoWriMo if you’re just going to throw it out later on?
The point, my friends, is that you’re writing. You’re not listening to the self-editor. You’re not opening yourself to doubt (Where the heck am I supposed to go in this? ) nor are you questioning your instincts Man, I suck at this). You just write. Get words down on the page as fast as you can, sometimes without even thinking. Getting that first draft out is a major hurdle. So you don’t think. You do.
And once you finally get it down, then you can step back and look at what you’ve done. Then you see what works and what doesn’t. Yes, there will be some stuff you won’t use, but you wouldn’t have known that until you wrote it. All that stuff you wrote is bare bones for the muscle you lay down in the second draft, the nerves in the third draft, the skin in the fourth…
I don’t regret writing all those chapters I took out. There are some places where I know parts of those chapter will crop up again. But mainly, I’m glad I wrote them because they gave me an idea of the world I created. And that will go with me as I head into the first edit of my book.
I won’t be doing NaNo this year. Too much stuff going on. But for all you writers doing it, I cheer you on. Good luck and keep writing!