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What is the reason for National Novel Writing Month? I mean, it’s got to have a purpose, otherwise, it’s just a fool sitting at their computer (I’ll assume most people use computers to write their thoughts down at some point) hoping that this particular month is more productive than the last. Personally, I don’t know if I’m more productive during NaNoWriMo that I might otherwise be.

Still, NaNoWriMo taught me two things. The first, never ever, under any circumstances, edit your first draft. And second, realize how insignificant 50,000 words really is when you don’t censor yourself.

The first lesson is of particular interest to me. When I say never ever edit your first draft, I don’t actually mean ever, as in “never go back, it’s perfect.” I mean, “this is only the first draft, ignore the flaws.” It doesn’t matter if there are words that don’t make sense or grammatical errors. When you go back and actually sit down to read that draft, odds are that you’re not going to be able to remember those details anyway.

What matters is that the idea is on paper (or the computer document) and you can go back and revise it. Take details out, add words in, finesse it until it feels right or you just give up. Either way, your first draft will never see the light of day, but NaNoWriMo helps it get on the page, whether it makes sense or not.

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