The Fixer

I just want to go on record and say the hardest part of NaNoWriMo isn’t producing 50K words in a month (although I have failed to do so the past four years….).  No, I think the most difficult thing is the lack of editing necessary to move forward.

I’m not just referring to typos, although they certainly have a habit of rearing their ugly heads at the most inopportune times.  I’m talking about writing a chunk of text, only to realize several paragraphs later it would be better if it was moved to another part of the chapter, or setting a scene in motion and then finding it should be from another character’s perspective.

Not going back and editing is a NaNo tenant, and probably the only way someone like me–whose time is limited, to say the least–can hope to achieve the end goal, but it’s really difficult.  The first few lines are like a broad brush stroke on an empty canvas.  But as the words start flowing, I get a view of the bigger picture and realize a lot of the details are missing.  It’s hard to not go back and rewrite paragraphs I know are weak, or add in characters I establish later on and wish had been present at previous scenes.  At the end of the month, my canvas might be full of color, but that doesn’t inherently make it art.

But that’s not the goal of NaNo, and I have to keep reminding myself of that.  If all goes well, I will have a complete or close to it rough draft of a book I’ve wanted to write for a few years now.  It may be nowhere near ready for publishing, but it will have taken its tenuous first steps toward becoming a book.  I just need to get to it and push forward.

Besides, between The Shadow Within, Together Alone and my NaNo book, I’m going to be neck-deep in edits for a long, looong time.  I might as well enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about it for now.

S.L. Madden


4 thoughts on “The Fixer

  1. I have the same issue (that’s what I get for being a *pantser*), and the way I handle it is to make notes as I go. For example, from my current NaNo project –

    “I know it’s about time for you to leave, dear, but I wanted to show you the other areas that need attention, so you’ll know for next time.” Maeve was concerned by how tired her grandmother seemed by all the activity, but she also knew how stubborn she was, so she quietly helped her up from her chair. Nana took a moment, then walked over to the pair of small white bureaus next to her bedroom door.

    [NOTE – I’ve said absolutely nothing about Maeve being Wiccan this time around. Mention earlier that at the party, she’d toned down her usual witchy attire out of respect for her grandmother, who didn’t quite realize Maeve’s conversion from Catholic to Wiccan…]

    When the time comes to edit, I do a document search for all the notes, put them in a separate file, then work my way down the list. Not a perfect solution, but it works for me.

    Happy edit-free writing! 🙂

    • Yeah, I’ve started doing the same thing. I put, “At six-four (?)” and have included several notes to self. The little things aren’t too hard to reinsert, but since the plot of this book is a little more nebulous than the others, I’m afraid I might reach a point where I find there were whole chapters I wish I had written building up to something, or that perhaps I’ll have written something that no longer makes sense.

      Really, though, this isn’t that different than how I normally write. It’s just at an accelerated rate. I haven’t mapped out my plots since high school (back then I had maps, character histories, little tid-bits of info the reader might never know). I still make lists when I get the chance, but I’ve tried to be better about letting the stories come as they may. It’s a bit scary stepping into the unknown, but it seems to work. Every major beat I have in mind before starting to write has come to pass, even if I wasn’t 100% sure how it was going to get there. I even remember when I was first conceptualizing the Only Human on the Block series, thinking, “Okay, it’s in the third book when we’re finally going to find out ” and I’m right on track for that to happen.

      Maybe I’ll have to try your method for making notes and putting them in a separate file, but I’m not sure I’m organized enough to pull it off. 🙂

  2. Virtual post-it notes in your Word doc – stick in a ‘note’ and MOVE ON! Or just highlight the passage – but that leaves it open to brain fart on why you highlighted it in the first place 50k words later, so I’m with Traci and recommend putting an actual note. Keep writing. Promise yourself you can edit later.

    • I know, I know. I try, I really do. It’s just so hard. The worst time is when I’m not writing and my mind is going into overtime filling in all those little details I missed and piecing together puzzles I didn’t realize existed. I can do it. I know I can. But if writing like this is akin to dieting, I might cheat a little…onion rings aren’t that bad for me, right?

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