Writing Through the Words of a “First” Draft

It’s November 3rd and NaNoWriMo is in full swing and I bet some of you are thinking the same thing as I am: my manuscript sucks!!
But does it really?
NaNoWriMo is unique in that it’s like a zombie run, you have to keep moving at all times to stay ahead of the undead that is the daily word count. Actually it’s not much like that at all but the image I’m trying to evoke is that writing 50 thousand words in 30 days is going to be anything but pretty. But that’s the point!
Still, in keeping with the zombie run analogy, you can’t look back. Looking back is death. Yes, there are some sloppy mistakes, yes there are outrageous spelling and grammar errors, yes this is something that you would never want to show anyone ever. And that’s absolutely okay, and I would even argue essential.
NaNoWriMo is two things for me:
1. Writing past the words. I don’t care for the term “vomit” draft, it has too many negative connotations. I think of it as the “Zero Draft”, the pre-alpha, the pre-season, the part two of an outline. Here it isn’t about the words, it’s about lying down concepts and intentions. Each chapter is an expanded outline of what we would want to be the in the broad sense. All the little bits that make up the story don’t matter here as long as the story is solid. Which leads me to:
2. Trusting myself. I know I used the same adjective three times in two sentences and keep misspelling my main character’s name. It kinda bugs the snot out of me and I want to fix it. But I can’t look back, looking back is death. But I don’t need to look back, I know myself and those little errors are going to be corrected all at once one the next pass. If there is a bigger issue, like needed set up or a plot hole, I simply make a note of it and continue writing as if I had already corrected it. This is a Zero Draft. I don’t have to worry about my first draft being crap because this isn’t it yet. When I go back and make all the changes that were tickling the back of my brain all through NaNoWriMo, then I will have my true first draft. All I need to is trust myself as a person and a writer that this will be done.
Good luck everyone! And remember, it doesn’t have to be flawless to be perfect.


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