Editing is the Opposite of NaNoWriMo

I’m not doing NaNo this year. I have an idea I wanted to try, a new idea, but I also wanted to edit and continue on with the WIP, the same project that NaNo helped me burst through last year.

So unlike the past two Novembers, I am not powering through lack of ideas and lack of sleep to get to 1,667 words a day. Instead, I am crossing out swaths of my manuscript, making notes, ready to do some further research and rewriting.

Editing and rewriting is not what NaNoWriMo is about. In fact, I found NaNo the most helpful in combating first draft anxiety, where the Inner Critic (I named mine Buzzy) flat out inhibits writing–with everything from “But it’s  not good!” to “But you need to do more research!”

I knew that trying to reach 50,000 words this month and trying to fine tune the manuscript would result in a very cranky me come the end of the month.

I am reading my book, all printed out, with pen in hand, being tactile with it in a way that editing on a computer screen could never replace. But I don’t think Buzzy has made a come back, necessarily. I’m not being overly critical of myself or the story.

But editing takes careful consideration. If I get rid of this very long scene (or related chain of scenes, as I did yesterday and today), then how will it affect the rest of the story? Does it leave room for other, more important things that I know I’ll need to add? What about deleting that word, so the sentence can flow better? Unlike the last time I attempted to revise a longer story, I’m seeing the possibilities for expanding or deepening the story. And that’s all good.

This kind of anal retentiveness can’t really happen when you’re galloping toward a word count goal everyday. I remember feeling so excited during NaNo–the enthusiasm of the participants was infectious and seeing your pages grow everyday is so exciting. But I’m also excited editing with pen and paper. I mean, when you get to draw large X’s through at least three pages of your WIP, there’s a deep sense of satisfaction inside, like you are vanquishing an evil dragon of crappy pointless scenes and bad prose.

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