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NaNoWriMo: Don't Edit As You Go

One of the easiest mistakes writers can make is obsessing over their work and trying to get it perfect on the first try. Whether or not you're participating in a challenge like NaNoWriMo, you should focus on getting the words down - editing comes later!

So, what are some ways to stop yourself from editing as you go?


Keep chapters and scenes separate

If you find yourself constantly looking back on scenes, keep them in separate files or even folders. This will also help with the organisation of your book, as long, single documents can be huge and confusing!

Once you finish a chapter, save it and start a new document. Just keep a document with chapter summaries you can go back to if you need any information.

It's helpful to take notes as you go and have a spreadsheet with summaries, word counts, subplots, etc. This way when it's time to edit, you can easily keep track!

Focus on what needs to happen, not how you say it

Everyone's first draft is terrible, so don't dismay. While you're rushing through it, focus on the scenes and dialogue.

What needs to happen to get your plot from A to B? What do your characters need to do or say to show their personality and development?

Whether you're a planner or pantser, this is the most important part of the first draft. Even if it's unreadable to anyone else, you need to focus on the story.

Youll probably change many aspects several times as you get to the editing stage anyway, so it's important to not get caught up in the words themselves until the end!

Use Grammarly to proof-read as you go

If you really can't help but edit a little, use a writing tool like Grammarly to give you advice as you write. This will help you keep your first draft cleaner, without you having to do it all manually.

This is especially helpful for new writers, as it will help you keep your grammar, spelling and sentence structure in line. However, be careful with AI writing tools. As I've blogged about before, they don't account for style and can often be wrong.

Trust your writing gut!


Come back next Monday, the midway point of NaNoWriMo, to talk about staying motivated!


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