The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

NaNoWriMo Tip #1: Quantity Not Quality

As I get past the first few days of initial NaNo excitement and head into the really tough part of National Novel Writing Month, I thought I would write a series of posts on my top 10 tips for making it through the rest of the month.

I first started NaNo in 2008, just after I had started taking writing seriously in my life (meaning wanting to make a career out of it). I wrote a book called INTO DARKNESS about a girl whose twin brother goes off to college and disappears two weeks later, leaving nothing but a pool of blood behind in his dorm room. It was an awful horror novel, but when the month was over, it was 50,000+ words, and I had won! In 2009, I attempted a novel called PANDEMIC about a group of teens trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. I only got 30,000 words in by the end of the month.

So what made the difference? Why couldn't I reach my goal the second time around? My answer: NaNo is sometimes more about Quantity than Quality. The first year, I was clueless about what agents wanted or what the so-called 'rules' were. I just wrote for fun. I had nothing more than a basic idea of the plot and a joyful sense of oblivion. I wasn't worried about whether I was writing the great American horror novel or not. I didn't even worry too much about whether the plot totally made sense. I just let the words fly out of me and land on the page unedited.

By 2009, however, I'd been a member of several writing organizations, a critique group, had read a dozen or more books on writing and was avidly following agent blogs and author websites. I was full of do's and don'ts. With every scene I wrote, I worried and obsessed about whether the book was any good. I wondered if the plot was something an agent would find unique or if I was just writing something cliche and overdone. I ruined my chance at winning NaNo by worrying too much about things that honestly don't matter during that first draft process.

Quality is what second drafts are for. There will be plenty of time to revise and shape your first draft once November is done. My advice? Stop worrying about quality. You are a writer. The quality will be there. After NaNo, you'll discover moments of genius you don't even remember writing. Granted, you'll probably also discover complete dreckitude within those 50,000 words, but no one ever has to see it but you. Don't worry about whether an agent will ever think your idea is awesome or not. Just write. Stop thinking about the rules. Just let the joy of writing flow through you for once. Let it come without judgment. Be free to write material of questionable quality. It could be some of the best writing you ever do.

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Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

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