It’s Time to Write that Rough Draft

I was trying to figure out why it is so easy for me to knock out 2,000 words (or more) a day during NaNoWriMo in November, yet the rest of the year I struggle to get 1,000 words a night. The answer is so simple I can’t believe I didn’t realize it much sooner. During NaNo I only think about quantity. I ignore the quality of what I am writing in favour of getting words on the page. This might sound like a bad thing but it can be a blessing. After all you can’t edit what you haven’t written. You might argue that the editing will take too long if you haven’t taken your time on the rough draft. For me, this hasn’t been the case. Whether I have agonized over every word, cruised through at my normal pace, or managed a light speed word war, the amount of editing is about the same. The grammar and punctuation police would cringe at any rough draft of mine, and the plot holes tend to show up in all sizes no matter my speed. The only difference between agonizingly slow and light speed are the spelling errors. At light speed they crop up more frequently because I don’t allow myself to go back and fix them.

This month and next, while I write my Murder Mystery, I’m going to take a page from my NaNo self. I’m going to write for speed and quantity instead of quality. I will still have plot holes of all sizes to fix, and I will still have to beg grammar help from a friend (or five). I will make one minor adjustment to my NaNo routine to help combat those pesky spelling errors though. At the beginning of each writing session I will allow ten minutes to edit the previous session’s work. I’m setting a timer though because if I let myself I could easily do nothing but edit. If all I do is edit, then I will never make any forward movement on my rough draft. I also can’t dedicate the same amount of time to writing as I do each November. My goal for the next two months is 2-3 solid nights of writing a week plus a few lunch hours when I can manage it. Hopefully it will be enough to finish the rough draft of my Murder Mystery.

Are you in the middle of a rough draft? Do you write through the end, or do you allow yourself to edit as you go?

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