It’s the first Wednesday of November, which means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG)! The brainchild of Ninja Master Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is here for you to spill your latest insecurities or inspire your fellow writers.
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You did it. You crossed the finish line. NaNoWriMo didn’t defeat you, you walked right over it. Your 50K is done and you’re proud to say you printed out the certificate to prove it (I totally did).
The next day, you went back to your NaNo novel and read the first chapter… and wanted to be sick. So you read the second chapter because everyone knows first chapters are off the first go round anyways… and wanted to be sick. The more you read, the more you wondered if you really wrote this dreck or if you really are that bad of a writer.
Stop right there and don’t move.
I’m here to tell you something and you need to listen before you go any further with those thoughts.
What you’ve written is bad, but you’re not a bad writer.
Because this is your FIRST draft. There are so many more to go.
So, while what you’ve written may not be up to standards YET, you have a second, third, and even fourth draft to write before it is.
On November 1st, the start of this year’s NaNo, Mental Floss put up a list of 11 published books that started off as NaNoWriMo novels. None of them, in their final form, are first drafts. But that’s not all. The Office of Letters and Light have their own list of published NaNo novels. How many of those do you think are first drafts? NONE, that’s how many. At least, none of the super successful ones.
Let’s take The Night Circus for one. I’ve heard about it and heard about it and heard about it. It was all the buzz for a while. Why do you think that is? Is it because Erin Morgenstern submitted her first draft to agents or publishers? Do you think it’s because she’s a much more exceptional writer than you?
The reason her novel is published is because she took a really horrid first draft and polished that baby until she knew it was ready to be submitted. You know what happened when she got the deal? EDITORS got a hold of it. More polish and more shine. Now, it’s a huge deal everyone (that I know, at least) is talking about it.
How about another popular YA novel? Stephanie Perkins wrote Anna and the French Kiss during NaNo. It went through several drafts. Now, it’s one of the most popular contemporary YA books out there.
The hard work you put in for NaNo isn’t over. It’s just beginning. The real work comes in making your new MS sparkle and shine.
So, set it aside for a few days, sit back, and enjoy life. Forget about what you wrote, and, when you do come back, you’ll be ready to start your editing. You’ll realize what you’ve written isn’t dreck, it’s the start of something amazing…