Embrace the Suck – Keys to NaNoWriMo

2192192956_c9023211ca_zI want to write a story of such profound beauty as to move its readers to tears.  I want the plots and characters to be so compelling that my audience can feel them as though they are real.  I want to set scenes so perfectly my readers can step into the novel and walk within its pages.  I want to write in language so beautiful my readers speak the words aloud just to taste them on their lips.

I want to write a book that will be all things to all people.

But none of that is going to happen during NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is not the time to get worked up about the quality of what you’re writing.

The point of NaNoWriMo is not to create such a seminal work.  It is to write and to write fast.  It is to have fun.

Writing is re-writing, and that is every bit as true for whatever you write during NaNoWriMo.  It is not meant to be brilliant.



Embrace the Suck

A critical part in achieving the 1,667 words per day pace is to embrace the suck, to avoid editing and re-writing your work.  That is time that could be spent writing and achieving or surpassing the 50,000 word goal.

There are countless examples of NaNoWriMos that are unbearably, unspeakably, embarrassingly bad in their first iteration.

It is no shame to add yours to the list.

Kurt Vonnegut once said, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

Or, in other words: you’re not alone.

In fact, you’re in the company of the world’s greatest writers.

I think developing writers have a massive misconception that comes from reading their favorite novels.  When we read one, we are reading a piece that has been read and re-read and re-written.  It has been through test readers and editors and agents.  Every single word has been scrutinized and agonized over.  It has been taken from the turd that it was when it was first written to the beautiful work before you.

In all likelihood, its first iteration was probably every bit as bad as your NaNoWriMo.

As readers, we don’t see that version.  We only get to see the final product.

Even when we know the entire process the book has been through, we never actually get to see it.  We don’t feel it viscerally, in our gut, the way we feel the frustration of the epic suckitude of our own first drafts.

Trust the process.

In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott wrote that the key to being a writer is to produce shitty first drafts.

Make your NaNoWriMo novel your shitty first draft.  Be the armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth and produce a phenomenally, singularly shitty first draft.

We can work on turning it into a decent second draft later.



Img: Hobvias Sudoneighm

2 thoughts on “Embrace the Suck – Keys to NaNoWriMo

  1. LOL. This is very true. I’m a little behind on this years nano but man some of the stuff I have written is bad bad bad.
    It’s still fun tho

    • CJ,

      You’re not alone. In my 4 days of NaNoWriMo, I have written some stuff I’m proud of and other stuff that… well, let’s just say “Embrace the Suck” was an apt article.
      It’s all part of the process, and we’ll get it to where we want it to be as long as we put in the editing/re-writing time later.
      Good luck with the rest of NaNoWriMo!

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