Abandoning 50K Words

So  last year I took part in NaNoWriMo and I succeeded in reaching those precious 50k words (yay!), I’m not doing this year because I’m 57k words deep in to the novel I’ve been working on since July, and I don’t want to take my focus away from it, as I’ve got about another 50k words to write for it.  However I got asked by someone at my writing group the following questions:

1) how on earth did I managed to write 50k words in a month –

I don’t know, literally writing was all I did that month, 1633 words every day is hard work, and then there’s the days where you know you have to write more because you know you won’t be able to write another day. I wrote before work, lunch time and after work, with not much time for thought.

2) how could I just leave what I’d written and not go back to it, 50k words is a lot (and is actually the longest thing I’ve ever written till my current novel which now has a larger word count) did I not feel obliged to do something with it?

The short answer here is no.

The longer answer?

I learnt a lot doing NaNoWriMo last year, firstly that you don’t have to write things in order. Yes I know that sounds obvious, but its something that never occurred to me before.  If you’re not sure how to get the story from A to B then it can make life so much easier to just write A and B and write the journey between the two later. Sure you may have to edit B later because things might change in the journey but still it’s written and done and helps give a point to aim at.

Also I learned that sometimes you just have to write that god awful sentence. Because even though its awful it helps you move onto the next bit and the next bit and then after a while the sentences start to flow better. And here’s the thing you can always EDIT THAT SENTENCE LATER.

I think NaNoWriMo also rekindled my passion for writing.

However at the same time I feel that a lot of what I wrote I wrote for the sake of word count. There are some scenes that I wrote where I don’t understand why I threw so much crap at the main character. Putting you character through hell and back is not a problem but there was so much of it and very disjointed, things happened just because. Basically I didn’t have time to think.

Yes sometimes you need to write, but I find that some times I need to pause, to think about what my characters are doing, where the plot is going. Sometimes the writing things makes things go in a direction I didn’t expect, but at the same time I find that I at least need something of an idea to aim at; why is the character doing this? What do they want? What are they like? This may evolve when I’m writing it, but I need that time to think and I found I didn’t have that with NaNoWriMo.

So what this boils down to is that I have a large 50k document that I don’t want to edit because I know how unwieldy it is.  Now yes some of this is probably because I’m afraid to edit.  I’m enjoying what I’m working on now, the simple process of writing it, but I honestly am now quite sure how I’m going to edit it. Mostly because I’ve never edited something so big, I suspect I shall be scouring the web for editing tips for ways to make my life easier. (I’ve already found a good one here written by Brent Weeks.)

However because I’ve had time to think I’m really hoping (how I’m hoping!) that the overal structure of this story makes sense a lot more sense  then the over all structure of my NaNoWriMo, which has branches going everywhere.

Now this isn’t to say that I don’t like what I wrote for NaNoWriMo, on the contrary I think I managed some quite good bits in it, and there are a few scenes that I really like. And perhaps one day I might come back to it, in fact since being asked the question I’ve already had a slight thing about it, and re-write it. Change some of the character motivations, what they do, and quite possibly copy some of the scenes from my NaNoWriMo over word for word on that first draft.

But then again I might not, who knows. To be honest I would be more disappointed with myself if I did that with my current novel. I want to finish it, I want the pride of knowing that I’ve finished the draft and have spent time tidying it up in to a state that people can read. And then perhaps if I’m very very lucky it might get published. But at least I’d know that I have something finished something that I could send to people to read if they wanted. (Perhaps I’m more in love with this story as well, a lot of the early stuff just seems to have written itself, yes I know that sounds cliché, but that is how I feel about it.)

So at the end of the day the answer is no, that story served its purpose, I learned from it and I’m content to leave it be.


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