It's NaNoWriMo! Don't Worry About Being Perfect
Written by
Maria Murnane
November 2015
Written by
Maria Murnane
November 2015

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Are you participating? If so, good for you! Given the inherent deadline of the movement, I'd like to share one of the most important lessons I've learned about writing books: If you try to make every sentence sound perfect NOW, you'll never get anywhere.

When I was writing my first novel, anytime I found myself stuck about where to go next with the plot, I would go back and wordsmith what I'd already written. At the time, I reasoned that as long as I was working on the book, I was making progress. Looking back, however, I realized what I was really doing was procrastinating! I was putting off the hard work of developing the plot, instead choosing to spend hours and hours fine-tuning what I'd already written. The problem with that approach is if you don't push the story forward, you will never finish the book. 

If you want to complete (the first draft of) a 50,000-word novel in a month, I suggest you take a clinical approach and set one of two goals, depending on your schedule: 

A)  Write 1,600 words each day

B)  Write 2,500 words each weekend day and 1,300 words each weekday

Writing that many words, especially if you're working full-time and/or have kids, is quite a task, but it's doable. The key is consistency. Skipping even one day will put you way behind, so don't even consider that as an option. And if you find yourself on a roll at some point, keep writing! There's nothing wrong with going over your daily quota. 

Once you finish the first draft, by all means go back and edit from the beginning. And you know what? As you read the story with fresh eyes, you'll probably end up cutting some things that for whatever reason don't work for the story anymore. Just think how glad you'll be you didn't waste your valuable time and energy tinkering with them. 

Good luck!



Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services to aspiring and published authors. Have questions? You can find her at


This blog post originally appeared on Reprinted with permission. © 2015 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

192 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (8)

12 articles
39 articles
107 articles
360 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • Liane Moriarty on Word Count, Inspiration and Social...
  • Driving Toward Literacy Engineered By Noteworthy...
  • Jewels from an Author Retreat
  • Write-minded Podcast: What's a NaNoWriMo...
  • Publication Day for Two Minus One: A Memoir
  • Grounding vs. Grinding: The Truth About Productivity

  • Rosanne Catalano

    Great advice, Maria! I seem to have this very problem. Self-editing as I write drives me crazy but I can't seem to stop myself. Doing this doesn't move my story forward. Now after reading your post I am going to try to set these goals for myself so that I will finally complete the crime fiction novel I began in 2008... 

  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    This is my third year, but I just switched full-time roles at work this week, so 1,667 per day has been tough. I'm already behind - but, OMG, if I retroactively apply PLAN B with 1,300 during the week, and 2,500 per weekend - I'm on target! Thanks, Maria!