March Madness or … My First Crack at NaNoEdMo

Doesn’t it seem like only yesterday that we were slagging and bragging our way through NaNoWriMo? At that time, the prospect of March, or National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo) seemed blissfully distant. Surely I’d have my other writing projects wrapped up by then and could delve into some rigorous revision of my NaNo.

Well, March is here, I’m signed up for NaNoEdMo, I’m already a little bit behind, and I’m slightly nervous about the whole undertaking.

NaNoEdMo is a challenge to put in 50 hours of editing during the month of March. That equals about an hour and a half a day. That doesn’t sound so bad — certainly less daunting than writing a whole novel in a month.

Mentally, it is less daunting to me. I prefer revision and rewriting to drafting, so having that hour and a half of editing looming over me each day doesn’t feel as ominous as the 1,667 daily word output of NaNoWriMo. But it’s hard for me to find time in November to write — and for me, NaNoEdMo requires a bigger time commitment. See, when I’m free of worrying about quality, I can usually pound out the needed 1,667 words for NaNo in an hour; in fact, usually when I write for a whole hour I end up exceeding that. But measuring in hours rather than output for March means there’s no way around it: to win, I have to put in the time.

Still, being free from the tyranny of word-count has its upside, too. There’s no penalty (except less productivity) if you spend 15 minutes on one paragraph, the way I did last week. I allow a range of editing activities to fall into that hour and a half: rewriting and correcting actual text, as well as free-writing to unravel challenging revision obstacles, doing a spot of research here or there that was skipped over in the frenzy of writing, reviewing comments from my writers group to decide what stays and what goes, and even bouncing ideas off my husband.

And already, NaNoEdMo has paid dividends. In just a matter of days, I was able to rework 20 pages and thus conclude my fourth revision of Rumpled — something I’ve been working on for months. And putting in so many hours in a short time-span gives me a much more cohesive vision of my story than editing it in half-hour chunks a few days a week could ever do.

Still, I don’t really know how I’m going to pull this off. I’ve got an online course starting today and my usual freelance and email backlog. I work every weekend this month. I’m going to be working with a friend to put together my new website. I’ve got two speaking engagements approaching, one at the end of March and the next at the beginning of April. I have dishes, laundry, pets, a husband, exercise goals, Lenten practices, two upcoming trips, and my blogging commitments. But that’s the point of these challenges, isn’t it? To prove that you can do it, even though life doesn’t stop to give you a breather. Who says breathing can’t wait until April, anyway?

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