It’s that time of year again – National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. Some of you might remember I didn’t get very far with it last year. I hated the words I wrote, and didn’t like where the plot was going either. So much so that I haven’t actually looked at the novel again until last month…and it wasn’t any better than I remembered!
So this year I’m starting fresh.
Normally in NaNoWriMo you have to write 50k words of a new novel/novella, and if you decide to work on an already existing project (even if it’s a complete re-write) you’d be a rebel. Woo rebellion! But this year that isn’t the case. This year you can work on whatever you want, with the same goal of 50k words. But even with my rebellion ripped away from me, I’m re-writing Broken – with a possibly new title to come later – because I really do believe in this novel. I know it can be good, I just have to get it there.
It can be disheartening to start a project with such enthusiasm and end up hating the way it’s coming out. I know a lot of people try editing (I did!) and re-editing (that too!) and sometimes that can help. But what happens when it doesn’t help? What happens when you’re still left with words that make your face crinkle up in disgust every time you think about them? Well, most of the time what happens is the document is filed away and never looked at again, because we don’t know how to fix the problem. And I’m here to say, don’t do that! There’s an important lesson I learned in university:
Don’t treat your work as precious.
If you don’t take anything else away from my blog, take that one thing. It’s an invaluable lesson to learn! I didn’t study writing at university, but it’s something that spans across all creative works and I’ve been trying to bring it to my writing a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hard lesson to learn and even harder to do! You have 9000 words of a novel. They suck and you hate them, but it’s 9000 words and deleting them is a HUGE obstacle to get around!
But there is a way.
I couldn’t get over the “don’t delete all of those horrid sentences!” mindset, so what I’ve done is just move it to a different folder, and started a new document in a new folder. Fresh start, old sucky words out of the way, clear mind to focus on the re-write 🙂 If you do this, don’t go back into that other folder! It is now quarantined! It’s tempting to think “Well there was that one sentence that wasn’t too bad…” but no, don’t do it! Work on your fresh start and let the words come naturally, not forced to fit around a sentence from something which had sucked away your motivation.
So that’s what I’m doing for this year’s NaNoWriMo, re-writing Broken. As soon as you can get your mind to accept that your work isn’t precious – and that it can be edited, deleted, shifted around and crossed out many times – you’ll be amazed at how freeing it is 🙂