I crossed the 18,000-word mark this evening, and I’m definitely getting to the length where I have to forcibly remind myself of the “don’t edit, just write” mantra. As much as I may repeat that mantra, though, I’ve already caved to the editing impulse. Only once. Okay, maybe a couple of times.
Dorothea Brande’s (excellent!) book Becoming A Writer, which I read several years ago as I was trying to psych myself up to take my writing more seriously, really drove home to me the importance of practicing the separation of writing brain and editing brain. The primary purpose of this separation is to protect the sensitive writing brain from the criticism of the editing brain so the writing brain can generate the raw content that the editing brain can polish into brilliant clarity. You can’t edit a book into existence. You have to write it first.
But 50,000 words is a lot of words to write without going back even once to re-read. I can’t even remember stuff I wrote this morning in the NaNo novel, much less remember stuff I wrote yesterday. The only way to keep things coherent is to re-read and keep wrangling the new sentences into some general association with their predecessors.
Despite the internal battle, I continue to be pleased with the results of the exercise. No way in hell will this be a reader-ready draft twenty days from now, but there are already some gems amongst the scenes, and the overall idea has legs, I think. I could even see making the 1-month novel a more-than-once-a-year event in my writing life. Of course, check in with me at the end of the month to see if I feel the same way.