As I’ve been madly writing for NaNo this month, I’ve discovered the true gift of National Novel Writer’s Month. Learning to write with abandon.

I’ve only written three books. I hear a lot of people talk about their five, eight, thirteen books, and I think Uh oh! Why have I only written three? What’s wrong with me? I’ve secretly feared that maybe I don’t really know how to write a new book from beginning to end.

While I’m not there yet, I have no doubt I’ll finish my book by the end of the month. And I know why I haven’t written the end on any projects beyond my original three: I wasn’t writing with abandon.

I was writing, sure. But I was writing carefully. I had to have pages ready for crit partners, I wanted to show my best writing. So I’d write, read, edit, write, read, edit. All this stop and start. Stop and start. I didn’t know I was doing it–I’ve never really had a problem with my internal editor, or so I thought. But now I know that I’ve slowed myself down by laboring over character development, word choice, and plot holes.

And when you’re looking to lay down a first draft, there’s really only one thing that matters: get it down.

NaNo gives me permission (well, to suck, yes–that’s a given) to press forward, to go ahead and repeat that phrase, or use my favorite words all I want. Just get the story down.

Writing with abandon allows me to live inside the world I’ve created. It connects me, viscerally, with the characters in my head. My voice comes alive and by the time I’ve reached the end, I not only have another book (I can do it!) I’m now armed with information to allow me to go back and perform a kickass revision.

So, write away my friends.  
Write … with abandon!
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ali_cross

14 Comments

14 Comments on Writing with Abandon

  1. Angela Felsted
    November 12, 2010 at 2:03 pm (6 years ago)

    I like writing with abandon, though I haven’t done it for awhile. Have you read Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artists Way?” It’s all about letting your creativity flow. I think you would like it.

    Reply
  2. Cherie Reich
    November 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm (6 years ago)

    Great post! And, I completely agree that’s what NaNo is about. To write that first draft without worrying or fiddling with all the other stuff. Get the story out there. Things can be fixed later. 😀

    Reply
  3. Matthew Rush
    November 12, 2010 at 3:17 pm (6 years ago)

    This is really cool. I’ve only ever written one novel, and while I do envision it as the first in a series I’m not sure I would ever have any other ideas worthy of a story that long.

    Reply
  4. Valerie Ipson
    November 12, 2010 at 3:54 pm (6 years ago)

    I (finally) discovered the beauty of this. I have never been able to turn off the internal editor as I write until I tried “writing sprints” this week. It’s crazy the word count that can be produced when punctuation and spelling don’t get in the way.

    Can I “borrow” your butterfly picture for my blog? I think I might post about this same topic.

    Reply
  5. Sara B. Larson
    November 12, 2010 at 4:44 pm (6 years ago)

    I love the butterfly picture! What a great post. I am such a self-editor, it’s hard to write with abandon for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it.

    Reply
  6. Krispy
    November 12, 2010 at 5:48 pm (6 years ago)

    Thank you! I’m still getting my stride with this. But now that I have my beginning, I feel like I can just rush forward.

    Also, you have my permission to suck. Do I have yours? 😉 Keep going!!! You’re doing WAY better than me word-count-wise!

    Reply
  7. Elana Johnson
    November 12, 2010 at 9:39 pm (6 years ago)

    Ali told ME about The Artist’s Way! So I know she has it. She *hearts* it. LOL!

    Great post, Ali! I like NaNo simply because I can remember where I am in the story. I don’t have to reread so much because hey, I just wrote yesterday. Usually, I have lots of days off in between writing, so yeah.

    Go NaNo!

    Reply
  8. Valerie Geary
    November 12, 2010 at 10:27 pm (6 years ago)

    Oooo! I love the way you’ve put this… Write with abandon. Beautiful. And most days I do…but now I have a handy phrase to repeat on those days that seem to stick. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Melissa
    November 12, 2010 at 11:26 pm (6 years ago)

    Great post. I feel the same way about NaNo. It finally got me to finish my novel that I’ve been working on for two years.

    You have three and are worried about other people? I JUST finished my first. You are ahead of me.

    Reply
  10. Paul Greci
    November 12, 2010 at 11:41 pm (6 years ago)

    love this post, ali. Related to all of it. Thank you!

    Reply
  11. Jenn Wilks
    November 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm (6 years ago)

    I was thinking what Melissa said – you’ve written three whole books? I’ve only written The End once! (And it was thanks to NaNo last year, of course. I <3 NaNo!)

    As far as your post goes, I can absolutely and wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. I think I need to frame your quote and put it on the wall. Or, better yet, get it in that vinyl lettering and put it up above my desk. It’s just that good.

    Reply
  12. L.T. Elliot
    November 14, 2010 at 2:36 am (6 years ago)

    Do you know how much it delights me to no end to read this post? Just…DELIGHTED! Way to go, ali. It’s a strange thing to write with abandon, to just live and and “be damned” with what happens. It’s all encompassing. It’s wild. It’s almost a feral dance. I love it.

    Reply
  13. Jolene Perry
    November 16, 2010 at 4:33 am (6 years ago)

    I always write like nano. BUT MAN you should see my rough drafts… cringe worthy.

    I have NEVER, NEVER let anyone see what I’m working on until it’s all done. Nano is my first exception. I’ve posted a paragraph here and there. But that’s it. Before someone looks over any part of the book, I want the whole thing to be done, AND I want to have read it out loud to my husband. Then, and only then, does it get passed out.

    I do edit as I go a bit. I’m just over 60,000 words on nano and I’m at the point where I HAVE to be editing to continue, having something to do with my inability to start at the beginning and end at the end.
    I’m so glad you’re having fun with it!

    Reply
  14. Solvang Sherrie
    November 16, 2010 at 1:29 pm (6 years ago)

    I’m enjoying it more this time around, too. I don’t know if I’ll get to 50k, but I’m having a blast with the story.

    Reply

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