In preparation for National Novel Writing Month, I wanted to write about something that serves as a struggle for most writers. The goal of NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words in a month and if you’re constantly rewriting words, it becomes quite difficult to make that count of 1,667 words a day.
The problem most writers I know face, is that they end up in a never-ending loop of editing. They write two sentences or a paragraph and go back and fix it over and over again. This is one of the fastest ways I know to halt your NaNoWriMo progress. Many of the friends I mentioned have fallen into this trap and only managed to get a thousand or two thousand words out before they gave up altogether.
So here are some tips and tricks to help you get to the finish line this November.
Try ilys.com. ilys.com is an online word processing program that only allows you to see the letter you type as you type it. You can’t hit backspace or go back and rewrite any of what you’ve written, until you’ve hit the word count you are aiming for. It forces you to keep writing without editing until you have hit your word count goal.
The sign up process is easy and they give you 10,000 words to as a trial. Once you’ve hit the trial word count, if you like ilys.com, you have the option of buying the an account for about $10 a month. I have had friends who have had great success with this program. The only drawback I find is that it often requires a lot of editing for minor mistakes and typos.
Turn off your monitor. If you can’t stop yourself from editing and just want to get a bit of writing done, this is another alternative similar to ilys.com. Set up your preferred word processor and turn off the monitor or cover it if you are on a laptop. You may even want to step up a timer, so that you have a certain amount of time that you are committed to not looking at what you’ve written.
Practice. Practice. Practice. This technique may sound overly simple, but one of the best ways to quiet your inner editor is to be aware of it and to ignore it when it comes up. Remind yourself that you will edit the book when it is finished and make notes in a separate notebook or document if you need to. If you’re writing in Google drive, you can even make comments to remind yourself what to fix later. I can tell you that getting in the habit of not doing any major edits until after the writing is done, even if it’s just getting that 1,667 words done for the day, will get you closer to your goals as a writer.
I’ve even know friends who just free write constantly and never hit the backspace button. This isn’t exactly my style, but if you find yourself over editing, it’s a technique that might help.
How about you? What do you do to keep your inner editor quiet? Feel free to share in the comments.