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  • Writer's pictureRosie J.

You can't edit a blank page...

And, I'm back again! I warned you I'd post a lot about #NaNoWriMo this month.

"You can't edit a blank page."

I say that a lot during the month of November. The longer quote above, by Jodi Picoult, expands on it a bit more.

As a Municipal Liaison (ML) for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I have the distinct pleasure of getting to cheer on and motivate a group of writers. It's an amazing, creative community to be a part of.

The goal of NaNo is to write 50k words during November. It may seem like a daunting task, especially if you've ever tried to write a book and can't get past the first chapter.

Have you asked why you can't get past the first chapter? Are you stuck in the "re-read/revise" trap? It happens to the best of us. You want to create that amazing first chapter to really set up the story and draw the reader in. But let me let you in on a secret. Sometimes, if you make it to the end, you realize that's not where the book was supposed to start at all. You spent all of that time trying to craft a perfect first chapter, that you absolutely love, and then have to woefully send to the trash. You could have been on your second or third book by now if you'd been writing new words for every time you re-did your first chapter.

The point of NaNoWriMo is to get the words on the page. It doesn't matter if they're good words. Bad words. Eloquently laid out sentences or run-ons a mile long. It just matters that they're on the page.

You can't edit a blank page.

NaNo Drafts (or zero drafts as some like to call them) are special things. They can be out of chronological order. They can have *insert name here* when you're on a roll and don't have time to come up with the name of something. They don't need chapter headings. Or to make sense to anyone but you. I don't go as far as to not correct typos while I'm writing, but I try very hard not to re-read anything I've written during NaNo, unless I need to remind myself where I was. And that's what I encourage other WriMos to do. Why?

Because you can't edit a blank page.

While I haven't been able to publish my NaNo projects yet, I have one 90k word manuscript awaiting a total rewrite into a trilogy. Another 100k word manuscript needing a little love. And I'm about 70k words into my newest project. If it weren't for NaNoWriMo, I probably wouldn't have any of those. They'd be stuck in my head. Or potentially in the first few chapters.

Are they good reads? Not yet.

Is there a vast difference in my writing from my first NaNo Draft in 2011 to my newest one over a decade later? YES!

Why? Because practice is important. You can't get better at something without practicing it. Studying it. Listening to experts. Writing is no different than playing an instrument. Or a sport. It's a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to get stronger!

Although this is specifically about writing, it goes for anything. If you want to do something, do it! Get started! Dive in!

Because you can't edit a blank page.

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