It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a writer in possession of a first draft will think it sucks.
And it is true. First drafts feel like terrible writing because the ARE terrible. Look on any writer’s blog for confirmation of this. It’s a testament to sheer noble sticktuitiveness and dedication toward getting stuff done that anything gets finished at all. Thus, the common wisdom is to power through a first draft at all costs. Let the words flow, and worry later about making them beautiful.
Perhaps doubly so during NaNoWriMo.
Yet, it’s possible to go too far. Is it better to super-productively crank out thousands of words in a draft that’s such crap that you end up tossing it, or is it better to work at a more deliberate pace that results in something at least editable? Charlie Jane Anders had some good thoughts recently about this.
Writing is, in the end, an intimate process, and you have to work out for yourself what works and what doesn’t. Within the scope of what works, you need to figure out what’s optimal. As of this writing, I’ve cranked out three consecutive 5k days, which falls short of writing a novel in 3 days, though that’s not the point. If I don’t have to dayjob, 5k is a good pace for a day. I’m still figuring out my process, seeing what works, and what works better. NaNoWriMo was super helpful for me in past years as I figured out my limits, but it seems less useful now, and that’s OK.
Accumulating word count isn’t what’s important. Telling stories is.
P.S. According to WordPress, this posting consists of 283 words. That’s totally counting against my day’s wordcount…