Quieting the inner editor

Day one, November 1st, 30 days to write a 50,000 word novel.

To make the 50,000 word mark, I needed to average about 1,700 words a day. I have no idea if this sounds like a lot to you, but in practice it felt huge at times. Day one went reasonably well as the details of the first scene had been working themselves out in the back of my mind. Day two, I was on my own.

One of the stated goals of NaNoWriMo is to turn off your inner editor. That little (sometimes loud) voice that says, “that paragraph makes no sense, you have nothing new to say, you’re not much of a writer, no one will ever want to read this, this is all crap…” The point of the challenge is to create enough time pressure that you are forced to just write as quickly as possible. In order to get your daily count of words, you need to muzzle that inner editor. Quantity over quality. What you are writing may indeed be crap, but you can always clean it up later. If you listened solely to your inner editor, nothing would ever get written.

For the first week of writing, I still struggled against the voices and hesitated too long over sentences. It would take me a while to get the ball rolling and I found myself staring too often at that little word count number at the bottom of the page. Writing became a rhythm thing, and things would speed up in the second half, but each morning I would stall out again.

The one thing I was able to do to limit the inner editor was that I didn’t go back and read what I had written at the end of the day. Once it was down on the screen, I did not go back to it. Each morning I would read the last paragraph or two to see where I left off, but I would not go back any farther. I didn’t want to give my inner editor any more ammunition than it already had.

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