Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Amuse Your Future Self #NaNoWriMo

Like many of you, I'm deep into my NaNoWriMo manuscript. I've passed the 33,000 word point. Yay! If you want to find me on NaNo, click here.

When I say 33k words, you know that I mean absolutely horrible words, right? Like, toss 'em over the bridge kind of bad.

I used to worry about those horrible first drafts. I no longer worry. I plan my books with a loose outline and use index cards to keep me on track. If I'm inspired to change directions, I do.

Here's the thing. I don't worry about the crappy first drafts because I know they can be fixed. What I'm writing now will be like 50,000 words of detailed plot notes. It's when I work the story out in my head and bring the outline to fruition. Barely any dialogue, world description, etc.

But there's one fun thing that I do that I wanted to share with you. I amuse my future self.

You see, when I read through this for the first time (which will be weeks, maybe even months from now) I'll need a chuckle. I'll be convinced that I'm the worst writer ever, and how did I ever think I could shape that fuzzy idea into a full-length novel? (Note: the manuscript is never as bad as I think it will be)

So what do I do? I write notes to myself. Sometimes it'll be as simple as (dumb). Or sometimes I'll question myself (didn't I write this a few pages ago?). But sometimes my notes will make my future self smile. I might type (lame) or (is that the best you can do?) or (crappity crap crap). I might even type (this is where I felt like throwing my laptop at the wall. but i didn't. i kept going. now fix this mess)

This way I don't take myself too seriously. I'll remember that what I accomplished during the month of November was capture a story on the page. Nothing more. When revision time comes, I'll flesh out the characters, add dialogue, and ground the reader with sensory details.

First drafts are the toughest part for me, so right now I must focus on getting the story from my brain to the laptop. No looking back. And if I can make my future self smile in the process, I'm all good.

How about you, writers? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Do you have any tips you can share with the rest of us?


  1. If we can't amuse ourselves, who can we amuse?
    I'm not a fan of first drafts. I need to see it on paper before I can really do anything with a story.

  2. You had me at your title! I think I need to live my life more like this. ;) #sighs Kudos to you for no longer letting those first drafts get to you. I haven't come to that acceptance yet. #growlsatself

  3. What a fun idea! I think I'm going to try it, especially when I feel stuck. Thanks! :)

  4. Great idea! I don't take my first drafts too seriously. I use it to learn about my characters strength and weaknesses which means I throw so much crap at them I end up scratching my head. But it's my favorite part of writing. =)

  5. I always consider by first drafts detailed outlines. I usually find they're better near the end and all the work is at the beginning to fix it.

  6. I do the same!! Notes litter by first draft as to what to do here, a bit of inspiration, isn't this silly, etc. It helps keep things in perspective, like you said. The real work begins in the next drafts.

  7. Good for you for writing so much and for participating in Nano. I wish I could, but I've mostly been writing cover letters for my teaching job applications.
    First drafts used to trip me up too. I read one of my first drafts and it was like a cartoon with two talking heads in most of the scenes, because I included very little description.

  8. Hahaha. I love that idea of writing notes to your future self. I'm having a blast this Nano finishing a novel I started over the summer. I added you as a buddy. Keep on rockin'

  9. Congrats on writing so much. And love your writing notes to yourself idea.

  10. I write "dumb" on my manuscripts a lot. I guess that translates to fix this puppy later. Good luck, Julie. I'm impressed by your drive.