20 According to Anne Lamott

Nuts by Jepthe

Image by jepthe @ sxc.hu

So Camp NaNoWriMo is going along pretty well. I’m actually relieved to be able to say that. I admit to myself it isn’t great prose but, and this is a big but, it is words on paper (electronically speaking…err typing…whatever).

I like Anne Lamott‘s term: a shitty first draft*. Because it really is going to be shitty. On the other hand, revising it will be an adventure unto itself. And I’m usually up for an adventure. Usually.

I do have a piece of advice, something you’ve probably heard a million and one times: do NOT, under any circumstances, edit. Period. Nope. Nada. Zilch. Your inner editor will make you crazy. Trust me, you do not want to end June wrapped in a straight jacket and typing with your toes.

Instead, make a note of what changes you want to make at the point you think of them and then write like they’ve already been made. The good thing about this is:

1. You have a note to yourself to make those changes during revision.

2. Your inner editor’s mouth has been duct-taped.

3. The notes can be included in your word count as they are, technically, a part of the story.

4. You can make changes on a moment’s notice without worrying about going back and making all those changes while still trying to keep to a minimum word count for the day.

So, my dears, how goes the writing? Any other pieces of wisdom to add for NaNoWriMo induced shitty first drafts?

* Sorry about the potty mouth. It’s actually the title of the third chapter in Anne Lamott’s book, bird by bird**. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have used foul language. I promise.
** I totally recommend this book.
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3 thoughts on “20 According to Anne Lamott

  1. I don’t edit during my first draft at all. If I have an idea in the middle of writing a scene that it could go in a different direction or something could be changed, I’ll make a parenthetical note in all caps in that scene so it’s easy to find later on.

    My writing motto is “everything can be edited” so I keep that in mind when I’m writing my first draft, where my major goal is to get the scenes written out. After all, that’s the first step — turn an outline into an actual story. Edits come later.

    So far I’m around 5300 words, which is about right on track, and I’m working on writing more words today. 🙂

    • Good tip about the all caps. I usually just write NOTE:, place the info after that, and begin where I need to on the next line down. I’m using storybox for writing this year so I think I might be able to change the color of the text too. Good luck on the writing!

      • Interesting, I hadn’t heard of Storybox. I downloaded Storybook because it’s open source and I thought it would be useful, but I’ve just been typing everything into Evernote documents instead. Good luck to you as well!

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