We are now nine days into this month of literary abandon called National Novel Writing Month and I’m behind on my word quota, just as I was last year and the year before. That’s no surprise. I’ve never finished a novel, even with all the pressure and bribes and good intentions. My problem is not that I can’t write 50,000 words in 30 days, but that I have this horrible need to edit as I go. Every year about this time, I get bogged down in the dangerous practice of correcting what I’ve already written instead of getting new words down on the page.
Usually, this practice serves me well. In college, it allowed me to crank out polished papers an hour before class and still get an A. But when I want to be purely creative, my editor instinct ruins all the fun. He wants to close plot holes, shore up shoddy characterization and reinforce shaking descriptions. And if I give in, I’ll never get to 50,000 words because you can’t give your first draft the care it needs if you’re already fussing over the final draft.
I need to suppress that innate desire to edit. I have to free my subconscious to play. It will be hard to do, but if I can’t accept that a first draft is supposed to be really bad, I might survive. Who knows what great things I can do with this story if I set it free from the bonds of perfection. Maybe I’ll end up with a convoluted subplot, a few half-baked scenes or some verbed nouns. If Shakespeare can make up new words, so can I. And if other writer’s are allowed to write crappy drafts, why can’t I?
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I’m an aspiring novelist, blogger, filmmaker, photographer and wino living in Flagstaff, AZ. If you liked this, please share it, comment or follow me on the Twitter machine: @jonnyeberle. Thanks for reading!