IWSG: Finishing (Or Not Finishing) NaNoWriMo Projects

So, I’ve been told I got the wrong question. I’m sticking with it it’s been a hectic month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
The question for last month was do you finish what you write for nano??
Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m not sure I know what the answer is, since I’m never entirely sure where “finished” begins. Is it when you write the end, and mostly know the story? Is it when the whole thing is polished to a mirror finish?
I usually have enough steam that the first draft gets finished, assuming that I’m not working on a revision at the same time. Revision is usually my big, high-pressure thing, and I get to a point of gotta finish now.
I don’t always revise what I write for nano. If I’ve lost interest, or if the story just doesn’t seem to be up my alley, I may choose not to revise at all, or the revision might peter out before I have a final clean version. I’m learning to embrace the idea that not everything I write is for publication or even anything other than experience.
I have a wide assortment of manuscripts that I will never polish that well on my hard drive, and I feel like I’ve learned from all of them. The ones that I want to spend enough time on to make presentable are special.
One of the things I learned from revising my first manuscript–the very first one, and it was really hard, and really long–was that there’s something dangerous about having “THE” manuscript. If it’s the ONLY manuscript, it makes it much more difficult to make objective decisions about it, and you tend to keep revising forever. As soon as you have that second manuscript written, you start having real choices. And that’s when I stopped revising in circles and moved forward.


  1. Reply

    I have one manuscript that I don’t think I’ll go back to. Mind you…maybe, just not yet. As to finished, this is a tricky topic as well! Even when I’m reading traditionally published fiction, I’m like, yeah, this book could have done with another read-through by an editor. http://www.raimeygallant.com

    • Reply

      I spent a **lot** of time revising my first manuscript, so I really do think it’s a milestone, when you get to the point that you have choices, and you know that not everything has to be revised. It was for me, anyway.

  2. Reply

    I agree – it’s a good idea to have more than one thing to work on. Not only does it save you from getting stuck, but you evolve as a writer, the more you write.
    (By the way – this is last month’s question and last month’s hosts!) mind you, the question is possibly more relevant now that November is over.

    • Reply

      I’ll fix the hosts… But I think it’s too late to fix the question. **Sigh** I guess that’s what happens when I get all enthusiastic and try to get ahead. Thanks for the heads up.

      • Reply

        No worries. It was a great post and gave food for thought. Having two MS insight is great advice and wisdom.

  3. Reply

    I several I tend to juggle, but I decided to narrow my focus down to only two projects at a time until finished switching from one project only when I get stuck or overwhelmed and need a break. That was my answer for looking back at 2017 and would I change anything.

  4. Reply

    I have finished two NANO projects, but find NANO less useful now that I’ve established a daily writing routine. I like your point, though, about each project being a learning experience. May 2018 bring you peace, prosperity, and lots of writing time.

  5. Reply

    Thank you for the reminder. I do get caught up in trying to polish EVERYTHING, and forget that some of it is just part of the learning process. I needed this article today! Happy IWSG day.

    • Reply

      Oh, yes. I have some learning process novels. The thriller that turned into a bloodbath. The erotica that never really got erotic and then wandered off into social commentary… Revision is a investment of a whole lot of time and effort.

  6. Reply

    Hi Karen Lynn! Happy IWSG Day. Multiple manuscripts, multiple NaNos? I’m not in your league yet, and I admire what you have accomplished. I hope you have a productive December and an enjoyable holiday season!

    • Reply

      I lingered over that first manuscript for a long time. In hindsight, if I had it to do over again, I’d probably put it in a drawer and write the next one absolutely immediately, before I started revising, but… well, experience.

  7. Reply

    That’s funny, because I imagine publishing everything I write. And want to publish everything I finish. 😛

    • Reply

      I definitely think about publishing most of what I write. But I’m notorious for tough revisions, so I have to think about whether it’s worth it, or if I should take what I’ve learned and run.

  8. Reply

    I have a short story that I know I will never publish simply because it’s not really me. It’s a story written by one of my characters as a test to gauge their personality. I also have a wip that I know I’ll never publish even if I do finish it one day simply because it’s a story I only work on when I’m in a bad mood. It’s all the worst parts of me. I think it’s healthy to have works you do plan to publish. Sometimes it’s good to have works and words just for yourself… Editing is a whole other matter.

    • Reply

      I’ve moved away from writing thrillers, because they’re not me as a writer, no matter how much I love them as a reader. And there’s a short story that I’m still thinking about. It’s out of my comfort zone by about a mile.

  9. Reply

    For NaNo, I wouldn’t sweat either. I say you’re done with the first draft for NaNo purposes 🙂 It’s cool that you approach some stories as just writing it for the experience. That’s a good attitude to have. No pressures. Experimentation. Having fun.

    Keep smiling,

    • Reply

      It’s actually how I finally realized that I’m not cut out to write the gory stuff. I tried something–just for fun–and realized I liked it better.

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