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Get It Written First, Right Second

by Jennifer on October 28, 2009

By Jennifer Blanchard

Back in July, I quoted the great James Thurber, who said: “Don’t get it right, get it written.”

If you’re attempting NaNoWriMo, this should be your mantra for the month.

The whole idea behind NaNoWriMo is output.

Yes, it’s a good idea to have a plan in mind, that way you’re outputting something that works. But in order to finish 50,000 words in 30 days, you need to focus on output. Quantity over quality.

What does that mean? It means:

  • Worrying about your daily word count (1,667 words) and NOT about if you the conversation you just wrote is actually important to the story or not.
  • You don’t edit as you write. You just write.
  • You take notes, write down ideas and mark places throughout your manuscript with a comment or highlight so you know you want to go back to it later.

Yes, it can be very difficult to focus on output without making any changes to what you write, but you have to do it anyways.

NaNoWriMo gives you 30 days to write a novel–and with good reason.

“Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output,” says Chris Baty, creator of NaNoWriMo. “It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

“Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap.” Baty says. “And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.”

This not only means you need to put away your inner editor for the month, but it also means you need to give up perfectionism.

Difficult? Yes. Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No.

So remember, get it written, THEN get it right.

(You can edit it later!)

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year and would like help staying motivated throughout the entire challenge, be sure to sign up for my 30 Days of NaNoWriMo Tips for Procrastinating Writers e-mail newsletter.

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Trina November 8, 2009 at 2:14 pm

This has been my lesson this year. Get it written down, and then go back. As simple as it might seem, this was a hard lesson for me, but I finally got it. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for the NaNoWriMo weekly encouragement e-mails. You are priceless.
Trina

2 jennifer blanchard November 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm

@Trina Why thank you 🙂 I’m honored to have you say that. And I’m SO glad you are enjoying the NaNo Tips e-mail newsletter.

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