Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo as an extended free-write

In the last two years I have completed my NaNoWriMo word goal really quickly (13 and 15 days respectively). Yeah, I've become one of those insane people that finishes early. *shrug* What can I say? I draft quick.

However, I must admit, I don't like to think of my NaNo novels as drafts. They're not drafts. They can't be called drafts. They're more like extremely long free-writes.

Let me explain.

When I NaNo, I don't expect anything to be truly publishable. Seriously. It's all drivel. I knowingly re-use metaphors until they're so frequent, it's cliche. I write scenes that clearly have nothing to do with the end goal of the story. I don't worry about anything like plot, and thus, my villains have been known to switch sides.

What I'm trying to say is that it's bad. Super bad.

And this is the point where everyone likes to step in and ask why I don't just spend more time on it then? After all, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and if I'm writing crap in 15 days, why not write something classier in 30 days?

Because that's not what I get out of NaNo.

You might think that it's a waste of words and waste of time, but this "extended free-write" of mine is part of the process I've come to embrace. To have that freedom to explore the world of my story, before it's important to nail down plot and character motivations and all of that hard stuff . . . well, that's important to me. The quality doesn't matter, but the act of writing these ideas out does.

Now, maybe I don't end up with anything publishable during NaNo, but when it comes time for the re-write, I understand the story and characters a whole lot more than I would've without my requisite NaNo crap draft. And hey, if my extended free-write can be written super badly in 15 days versus moderately badly in 30, well, I'm cool with that. :)

So how do you guys draft? Is your first draft something that you're proud to call a draft, or do you collect a mess of words and ideas like I do? Have you ever taken a NaNo draft and perfected it? Or, if you're working on a NaNo novel right now, are you spending the time to make sure everything meshes? Tell me in the comments.