As we enter week two of NaNoWriMo, the very obvious time crunch becomes even more obvious. How has a week passed already? How is that possible? Alas (I’ve always wanted to use that word), here we are! Week two! This may be where the panic sets in for some people. Maybe you didn’t write as much as you wanted to during this first week. Maybe you’ve started doubting your story. I’m here to tell you to STOP!
It’s okay if you didn’t write as much as you wanted to. You’ve got another three weeks to catch up. It’s okay to doubt your story, but don’t let that doubt stop you from writing it. After all, first drafts are supposed to suck!
Whether you’re writing 50,000 words in a month or 100,000 words in a year, that first draft is not going to be a masterpiece. Sorry. But hey, that’s what editing is for, right?
There will be stuff in your first draft that you love. You will read it and think, “I am a freaking genius!” Then there will be the things you read tat will make you want to throw everything you’ve ever written out the window. And that’s perfectly normal, you are not alone in this.
The first full draft I ever complete was done for NaNoWriMo last year. I think probably the most important thing I learned from that experience was learning when to not edit.
This is something I’m still working on, but I definitely think I’m better this year than I was last year. It took me a while to be okay with the fact that my first draft was not going to be perfect. But once you accept that, not editing becomes easier. By not editing, you give yourself the chance to take the story wherever you want. You’re not thinking of things that already happened, you just go.
There will be plot holes. There will be characters you forgot about that disappear halfway through the story. Same with some plot lines. There will be things you wrote that when you read it you will have no clue what you were trying to say. But there will also be things that happen in the beginning that you didn’t even realize at the time can act as foreshadowing for something later in the story. You may find two characters who, alone, are kind of flat, but put them together and they’re great! But you have to give yourself the chance to write them into that first draft before discovering all this.
So don’t stress (too much). Whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or not, that first draft is not going to be pretty. But that’s okay because you can edit it and stick a bow on top and make it gorgeous once it’s done. because that’s what most important here: It’s done. You did it. You wrote a novel.
So kick your feet up and eat a bag of Oreos. Unless you’re not done, in which case, get back to work!