Fast Novel 101 (part three)

This month, we’re working on writing those 50,000 word books, NaNoWriMo style, but in a month that’s not as insane as November or April. Click Here to see how the series started out, and what we did to prepare for this arduous ordeal.

Today though, I want to remind you of some things.

Don’t get discouraged.

I want you to remember that we all write crap sometimes, and that we all write chapters that have to be cut and characters who need to be removed and settings that need to be rethought and storylines that just plain don’t work.

We all do it, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, we do it a lot. It happens. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I’ll tell you why:

We get better at writing when we fail at it.

When we make a mistake and we realize it, we’ve just gotten better at writing. When we write a monologue and realize it’s terrible, we’ve just gotten better at writing. When we write a whole chapter and realize none of this information is necessary to anyone but us, we’ve just gotten better at writing.

It’s something a lot of us overlook, something many writers fret over, when it comes to writing a whole book in a month. We dread the thought of writing something bad, the questions in the back of our minds that ask whether we’re doing the right thing or not. But the truth is that those questions help keep us on track. Those questions are the things that teach us—but we should not allow them to cripple us.


Here’s what you need to do, if you’re going to write a whole novel in a month:

  • Don’t self-edit while you write
  • Make notes of things you think might need to change, but don’t change them
  • Don’t go back and make sure you did it right
  • If you need to go back, do it only for reference, not for details
  • Don’t let your characters (or your story) get the better of you—but don’t worry about it, if they do

Remember, a novel writing month isn’t a perfect-novel writing month. It’s just a novel. It’s going to have to be edited no matter what. So don’t sweat the small stuff, but don’t sweat the big stuff either. Every novel written in NaNoWriMo has to be cleaned up to an insane degree. It just does. Yours will too.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The goal is to write a book. Remember that. The goal is to write a book, to get it out of your head and onto the page. That’s the important part here.

You don’t even have to let anyone read it when you’re done, if you don’t want to. This is your creation, your baby, and you get to decide what happens to it.

You also get to decide whether it comes to life at all—but to do it, you have to get out of your own head.


Rani Divine
Associate Editor, Etc.