NaNoWriMo is a motivator, not a polished novel contest.

NaNoWriMo… this word travels through my Facebook feed and writing communities like wildfire, but people carry a common misconception about this competition.

It’s not about having a polished novel in one month, especially if you are a budding writer trying to make a career.

This is one reason a good chunk of writing friends hate this particular event – too many writers believe that after writing 50,000 words or more, the novel is ready for publication. Writers believe it hit word count guidelines for publishing houses and for indie publishers, so it is ready for submission.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, my friends.

NaNo is a good motivator for writers who have not established a routine or who aren’t good with maintaining goals they set for themselves. A lot of folks do well and I commend them when achieving their NaNo goals. But let’s be realistic.

When I participate, I’m not expecting to finish a 95,000 word novel in a month. The best I did drafting everyday was 8 weeks and I wrote 4-8 hours a day with Drift. I’ll be line editing as well, so that’s why it is a play project for me.

However, it is important to note to not sacrifice quality over quantity.

This is important enough to bare repeating.

Do not sacrifice quality over quantity.

Take your time and enjoy the month, but don’t put humongous pressure on yourself if you don’t hit your goal. Real life happens. Family comes first. Do not assume that your first draft will be a one hit wonder, because first drafts are meant to suck.

First drafts consist of writers fleshing out ideas and seeing what does and does not work. They’re meant to find ridiculous typos you could make bloopers of. This is the time where writers find if characters work, if they don’t, what needs replacing and what doesn’t. Most writers find something works in a different part of the book or in another one entirely, so it needs to be truncated until the part is usable.

A first draft should not be submitted to a publisher, and I’ve seen writers lately regret sending in unedited drafts, because they are immediately rejected.

Take your time with your project. Whatever you finish during NaNo is better than the nothing you started with. But don’t create more work later by writing down anything, reading it and realizing how ridiculous it sounds days later. Editors will wonder if you lost your mind if there’s massive amounts of typos or plotholes that make no sense.

A handful of writers I know can get away with two drafts before submission or even one. That is not the majority of writers, especially in self-publication.

So if you take something away from this post, take your time and use the same qualities in any other project towards NaNo. Your editor and readers will thank you later.

As for me, I still plan on working on Injustice, but I’m not setting a goal to finish it in 30 days. Even I can’t manage 95,000 words in a month at my current level, and I’m not willing to sacrifice quality for it. A lot of planning goes into a novel, no matter if it’s a standalone, series or just a side-novel.

Do yourselves a favor and give your novel the love it deserves, or else you’ll create more work to fix later down the road.

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