Using Nanowrimo for Second (and Future) Drafts

It’s October, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, Squiders, which means that writing communities everywhere have started to panic about the upcoming National Novel Writing Month.

In one of my writing communities, a friend is debating working on a second draft of a pre-existing novel or starting a new novel. She says she’s tried a rewrite for Nano before and hasn’t had it go well.

Whereas I did novel rewrites for Nanos 2009-2011 and they were my easiest years ever.

(For those of you who are new to the blog, I have been doing Nano since 2003.)

This friend is a pro-level writer, so where’s the disconnect?

I can’t really, say, of course, as everybody is different. But I did benefit from sitting down before attempting second and third drafts, going through and identifying plot issues and completely outlining the story before November.

If I am completely rewriting a novel for a second (or fifth) draft, then enough has changed that it’s enough of a new novel that it will work for the measured chaos that is Nano. But the outline keeps me on track and makes sure I’m putting out a usable product. So it’s win-win for me.

Rewriting is, of course, slightly different than Zokutou-ing, which is where you work on a book you’ve previous started. (If I do Nano this year–which would be Year 11–I will do this.) I can see how it might be difficult if you weren’t doing a full rewrite and were having to evaluate each scene to see if you were keeping all or part of it. That would suck to try and do during Nano itself. But a pure rewrite isn’t any different than a first draft, except hopefully you know where you’re going this time around.

Had success with a rewrite for Nano, Squiders? What was your procedure? What worked and what didn’t?

And should I do Nano this year myself?

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Marc Wright on 2013/10/08 at 8:19 PM

    Only tried a rewrite-for-NaNo-Project once, didn’t make it– but it was Camp, so I didn’t stress it.

    I never, ever, under any circumstances, outline anything– so outlines as rewrite guides wouldn’t work. (I’m like Stephen King in that outlining is a sure way for me to produce a pretty awful novel. If not worse than that.)

    This year, on the advice of a doctor, I’m avoiding NaNoWriMo completely. I’m having stress-related health issues, and I am one of those competitive-even-with-myself types, so NNWM adds to my stress levels. Having had one stroke already, I’m going to take the doctor’s advice– and make my family happy as well.

    But darn it, I’m going to miss it.


    • I don’t normally outline first drafts, but I find them quite helpful for rewrites and editing.

      Sorry to hear about your health! Nano will miss you too.


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