Sprinting through the Willows without stopping to smell the rewrites…

Last Thursday in the afternoon, I had just finished writing another chapter of Willow. Usually, I time it so that I end a chapter around the end of naptime. Then I get up and go get Daniel, who has been awake and calling for “Mommy!” for ten minutes (and when she doesn’t show up, he invokes, “Elmo!” or “Thomas!”)

But to my surprise, Daniel was still in nap-nap land, which meant I had some precious time left to myself. Oh…what’s a stay-at-home mother to do? Should I finish folding the laundry? Get a head start on dinner? Read a chapter of my book? Or even, (gasp), take a brief, wholesome nap?!?!

Or, I thought…why don’t I write some more on Willow? Start working on a new chapter?

It’s an unprecedented thought for me. When I write a chapter, I usually write up to what I think is a good stopping point, then stop until the next time I start writing. It never occurred to me to just keep going on, to write as much as I can without caring if I stop at a decent point. So I tried it. I started a new chapter.

I think the word count I did for that day was around 3500 words. More than enough to put my weekly total in the 20,000+ zone. It’s pretty cool to see my word count shoot up by leaps and bounds.

However, there is a dark side to all this writing willy-nilly.

Today, after quite an eventful weekend, I woke up and started working on Willow. Halfway through a chapter, I suddenly figured out a plot point that will tie up the section I’m working on. I now had a way to get my characters from point A to point C, by traveling through D instead of B. It was a brilliant mindstorm, and all I needed to do was rewrite the last chapter I wrote to reflect changes that will bring my current chapter up to speed…

But I can’t rewrite that chapter, can I? Not only does it change my word count for NaNoWriMo, but even if I did, it’s not really new stuff I’ll be writing, is it? As far as NaNoWriMo is concerned, I’m done with that chapter. Which is cool. I understand.

One of the drawbacks of being a writer is getting the story down without jumping back to do rewrites. It bogs a writer down because when you rewrite, you’re not in freespirited creative writing mode–you’re in harsh, critical editor mode, and you’re weighing every word, balancing every sentence, testing how it feel, what it sounds like. I think that’s why it took me so long to start writing on Willow again. When I first pulled it out, true, I had forgotten most of the story. But I also saw that I’ve pretty much written crap, and the editor in me wanted to refine that. I don’t regret rewriting the first part of the book–it helped me get a better handle on the story as a whole; but now that I’m back in the freespirited, write-whatever-I-want-so-long-as-I-get-it-down mode, I don’t want to slow down for editor mode. At least not this month.

I think there are times, though, when a chapter rewrite is absolutely, positively necessary, mainly if a major plot point has changed. I think today is a good example of that. If this was any other month, I would have gone ahead and done the rewrite. But this is NaNoWriMo. So, in the spirit of the month, what I’ll do is write a couple of paragraphs or two that has the stuff I want to change in the previous chapter, then I’ll put it in my notes to revisit at a later date. Then, I start the next chapter off as if I’ve implemented those changes.

In fact…I think I’ll add those two paragraphs to my word count. After all, technically…it’s still Willow writing. 🙂

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3 Responses

  1. Go go go!

    I took a couple of days off and will write tonight.

    I agree with you. The whole editing thing can really stop you and bog you down.

    Glad to hear everyone is ok by you. 7 more days until Florida.

    ((((((((((((((()))))))))))))

  2. I envy you. You get to escape our 40-degree weather. But back at you with Go go go…

    Didn’t you say you were going to shoot for 10,000? If you did, looks like you shot past it. Whoo hoo!

  3. […] It’s weird, though. I’ve also been really itching to get back to work on Willow, too. I took the weekend off of writing to celebrate–because hey, when you set goals for yourself, and you actually reach them, you gotta celebrate. My hubby asked me, “Now that you’ve done this constant freewriting on Willow, are you going to go back and work on that chapter you wished you could do over?” He’s talking about when, around November 13, I had two new characters suddenly pop up and create a major plot change, but at the time, I couldn’t go back and write their introduction into the story. I chosen just to write them in as if I had done their introduction, then go back in December. I’m not sure I want to go back and do that rewrite now. I think wrote enough that once I do the major rewrite, I’ll be able to look at my notes for that chapter and rewrite it better then. If I ever get a huge urge to rewrite it in the future, then sure, I’ll do it. But right now, I got a good groove going. […]

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