NaNoWriMo Tip #4: Meet your word count first; edit it later.

SpaghettiOne analogy about the tips you often hear regarding National Novel Writing Month is to imagine your your sentences as strands of spaghetti that you toss onto the wall of your manuscript.

As with any wall that gets covered with wet noodles and tomato sauce, at some point it either looks like a mess—

Or, like a work of art.

After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Remember: you are your own Jackson Pollock. This project is just the first of your many masterpieces.

You'll have a natural inclination to go back, re-read it, and edit what you wrote.


Why? Because the whole purpose of NaNoWriMo is to put as many words on the page as you can in these precious thirty days.

If you're spending an hour — or worse yet, a full day — honing a specific page (or paragraph, or sentence) you will NEVER make your word count. The sheer weight of writing — and endless re-writing — are like ankle weights strapped onto a marathon runner: well before you reach the finish line, you will collapse in exhaustion.

Right now, you have only one goal: those 50,000 words, which is about two-thirds or half a standard manuscript submitted for publication, depending on the book.

After your thirtieth day, having reached your 50,000 words, most definitely you should re-read your story.

And re-read it again. And again.

And rewrite it. Continually.

Take note of misspellings, phrasing that is awkward, scenes that are deadly, and characters who don't move the plot forward.

The time you take to reshape your manuscript is what makes it a masterpiece, not how many words it is, or that you even finished it.

Your characters have to be engaging.

Your plot has to challenge them, give them moral dilemmas.

Your story has to be satisfying to your reader.

But your first step is to move that story from your head to the page.

Because ultimately, others want to read your masterpiece, too.




Okay, now, tell the truth: Are you meeting your word count? And tell me why, or why not…

— Josie


4 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Tip #4: Meet your word count first; edit it later.

  1. Thank you so much for writing these, Josie. I have read and learned a lot from each one of them. This is my 1st NaNoWriMo, and I can’t believe I haven’t done them before because I’m loving every minute of it!
    I have to be honest and say I have no idea, yet, what my word count is because I’ve been writing everything by hand. (There’s just something about paper and pen that changes the way my writing sounds…) But! I do have about 20 single-spaced pages (40 if you count front and back as two, which I’m gonna) to work with, and that’s more than I’ve produced in a year! Birthday’s next month, and I’m thinking about getting myself an early gift and buying one of those pens that digitizes everything while you write. It would save me so much time!

  2. I am loving these tips! I found them through the post you made on NaNoWriMo’s FB page. =)

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