Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #1

Hi all.  I'm not participating in NaNo this year, but in honor of everything November means to all of us writers - and to those happy few who are racing toward 50K by 11:59pm on 11/30/12 - I've decided to re-post my NaNo Pitfall posts from 2009

Here's the first (and please note this is the year when I first wrote Djinnocide, so you'll see a few references to those characters and whatnot - even though some of them have changed):

NaNo Pitfall #1 - do not go back and read what you've already written. 

Okay, so I opened the file this morning to get some words written, and for grins I decided to read some of the beginning of this book.  I found a few typos, which I fixed.  Not a problem.  Then I found a bit of worldbuilding that I have since differed from.  Umm.  Crap.

Now my brain is so busy worrying about how I'm going to fix this that I can't think about where I was supposed to take the story next.  Seriously.  And what's worse is, I knew better.  I know if I start finding flaws in the story, I'm going to want to go back and fix them all before I continue.  It's a thing about me.  It's also why I've learned to write the way I do - straight through, no stopping and no going back.

Yes, at the beginning of the book Nigel (a minor character whose name is going to be changed) doesn't know what the hell is going on any more than Jo (the MC) does.  But in the later chapters, he's part of the group that's known all along and has been keeping it a secret.  Sooo, I either need to fix the beginning or I need to fix this middle part.


Deep breaths.  In through the nose, out through the mouth.

What I really need to do is forget I ever saw that flaw and forge ahead.  The story is going great so far, and whatever Nigel does ultimately doesn't matter to the crux of the plot.  (Unless I make this into a series, and then Nigel's crucial to the plot that would carry over several books.)  Regardless, I need to tuck this flaw into its proper place and fix it later.

Remember folks, you can always go back and fix afterwards, but you can't fix what isn't written.  So just write.  Damn it.  (That last part was for me, btw.)

And thus ends our brief neurotic break.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled psychoses. ;o)

(Go here for the original post so you can see the comments people made there.)

PS.  Nigel became Basil and I did fix the flaw.


  1. Excellent advice, B.E. - glad to see you're reposting these pitfalls because I'm going to need all the help I can get :)

  2. Thanks, Janet. I hope they help. I need to intersperse them with editing pitfalls, too - especially since I've been ramming my head up against one lately. Editing Pitfall #1 - Overthinking (or maybe over-tweaking).

  3. Interesting, B.E. That's the reason I did my first NaNo--to write the damn first draft all the way through. I would read the previous chapter to get "a sense of things" before moving forward, and...never moved forward--or did so at a snail's pace.

    NaNo taught me to draft fast and draft ugly. As Nora Robert's says, "You can't fix a blank page."

    Happy editing! I'm getting off line now until my words are done. Then I have to go get my glasses fixed. They broke first thing this morning. Not an auspicious start to the month. :lol:

  4. Exactly, Silver. That's why it took me 9 months to write the first draft of my first novel. I kept going back to fix things. Ugh. Now I write and maybe editing takes longer, but at least I have full pages to work with. =o)

    And ACK about your glasses. That sucks. I'll keep my fingers crossed for your words and your broken specs.

  5. I have to keep reminding myself not to go back and edit! That's one of my goals for the month - to keep writing without looking back (too much).

  6. Excellent advice for those in the NaNo trenches, B.E. It's an extremely hard thing for me to do, as I love editing. Writing the first draft for me is a necessary evil!

  7. I remember this post from last year, and it's still excellent advice this year! =)

  8. You can do it, Andrea! Forge ahead now. Looking back is for after. =o)

    I'm the opposite, Karyn. I love just writing and editing is my necessary evil.

    Heh, it's older than you think, Nat. This is originally from 3 years ago. Time flies when you're having fun. And it's been awesome knowing you that long.