During NaNoWriMo, the challenge of the word count hangs over us. Take advantage of it and wander down those tangents. Explore a tickle of an idea. Flesh it out. Does it work? If so, keep meandering. If not, that’s okay, you might be able to use this as a short story or as extras for your website during the promotion of your book later.
Maybe the off-beaten path you’ve just beaten is really your story, not the one you were writing. Or a sequel. You might not have considered this as a series, but it could be. Why not?
Tangents can also help you with back story, character descriptions and personalities, worldbuilding, opportunities to expand your story and your thoughts about the story. You can slice and dice in the editing process, but if the call to deviate pulls your fingers in that direction, go with it for a while and see what happens.
Keep an open mind and let your unconscious lead you in what might be the right direction.
If it isn’t, your mind will pull you back automatically, so don’t worry. Keep writing.
You can find more writing tips, NaNoWriMo prompts, and writing tips for NaNoWriMo on our Writers in the Grove site.
This is how I write. I know for a fact more than half of the stuff I write will get edited out, but for me, it’s important to know all the details. So all of those extra words or not a waste.
Absolutely. There are never wasted words when you are developing a story. Editing hones the results. And I find that sometimes what I write in a tangent is better than where I planned to take the story.
But there is a darker force sometimes at work, too, and that is when the tangents take us away from the story, lead us in directions that resembles procrastination rather than truly creative and useful work. I’ve fallen in that hole a time or two, and it usually means that I have something great to write, but I’m intimidated. Once recognized, I buckle up and head back down the straight and narrow path, tackling my inner demons along the way.
Either way, keep writing. All writing is not a waste. It is a creative process and the finish product rarely looks like the rough draft.
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