Knowing when to stop

Sometimes, it is very important to take a break, even if it is from something that you love doing.

This month, for example, I took part in a writing challenge called NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where you try to write 50,000 words of a novel throughout November. I was doing very well for the first three weeks, but then I started to grow weary and decided to call an end to the challenge. For the sake of my health and the quality of my book, I simply had to recuperate and stop writing for a few days.

However, with 40,000 words in the bag, I don’t feel like I have “lost”. There is no losing when you take part in NanoWriMo, as any word count that you produce is better than what you started with! And without the challenge, I would not have been spurred on to write such a large quantity of material.

But of course, it’s not all about the quantity. I’m a great believer of getting something right the first time, and so I put a lot of effort into producing an excellent first draft, which saves time later on when redrafting. This month, after three weeks of intense writing, I started to feel the quality of my work begin to slip, which is when I knew that I needed to rest.

Now that I have recovered from my mental exhaustion, I feel ready to carry on writing. I am nearly halfway through the book now, so I’m very excited to deal with the latter half of the narrative =)

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2 thoughts on “Knowing when to stop

  1. I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. I spent about two weeks on a single chapter that sits at only 4k words in a bare bones form. But it’s where all the drama unfolds. If I didn’t nail down the specific elements of it, the rest of the book would have no direction. And now that I have my foundation set, I can write and play.

    But with that in mind, I question NaNo repeatedly over its emphasis on producing a volume of words in a month. If I didn’t have that chapter worked and reworked, I would have wasted all that time and energy on later sections of the book that would ultimately have to be significantly rewritten. In the end, I really think that in the beginning stages of a book, it’s best to go slow and get the fundamentals down and then spend a month later filling in the gaps and playing with the subplots. So NaNo should really be a month to polish a book and get the minutia filled in, not beginning a novel. Just my opinion, I’m not a fan of NaNo.

    • Whatever works for you James =)

      Every writer is different, aren’t they? I know that a lot of people who take part in NaNo focus solely on the word count, but I’m like you – I need to get it right the first time. There’s no point writing 50,000 words if most of it is rubbish, is there?

      I will always be indebted to NaNoWriMo though, as it has given me a helping hand with two of my novels thus far.

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