Things I’ve Learned from NaNoWriMo: Go with the Flow

Have you ever gotten annoyed with your writing when in the first draft? Wished that it was less rambly? Wondered if you were using italics too much? Worried when you started going off the plot you outlined and wrote in something new entirely? Today, we’re tackling that subject.


Week 1 – Saving Your Work

Week 2 – Your Writing Time

Today’s Goal:

  • Discover if it’s okay or not to do random stuff during the first draft
  • Try it out in your own writing

During my draft in NaNoWriMo, I noticed that I used italics. Like, a lot. I started to wonder if I shouldn’t be using as many as I was.

But then I decided… why not? I was making a point. If that meant that they were on practically every page, then, okay.

Another problem I had was that my mind could race faster than my hands. I would be figuring out how to describe one thing while my mind was figuring out what would happen next… and the next thing I knew, I was already writing out the other part. But I never realized it till I glanced over my writing and saw how disjointed it was.

Something else I did (more often than I want to admit) was dive down rabbit holes. I would have a random idea as I wrote to add to the scene and BOOM. Suddenly, everything is way off track.

Source | My book’s randomness at unsuspecting me

Is this okay?

The thing is: this is the first draft we’re talking about. Sometimes, when you’re actually writing and not just outlining, ideas come a bit better to you. And the entire thing is going to be a mess anyway unless you’re somehow magically some sort of writing genius. 😝

Here’s what I like to think if I used a lot of italics, wrote further than I was, or randomly add in a new scene: I can always take this out later if it doesn’t work. That’s the beauty of horrible writing: you can always fix it. That’s why I like to rewrite stories, actually; I love to watch them advance and become better and better.

If you’ve been around since Camp NaNoWriMo last July, you’ll know that I had some outlining problems that then proceeded to stifle my creativity. I still have yet to return to that book project (Poison Dragon) but have been playing around with some new ideas for it. The Storm Inside was the project I turned to when I was dying. I’d had enough of Poison Dragon since I was writing garbage. And I’d taken a break that lasted only a week before I really needed a project to work on since I’m a creative.

Enter replotting The Storm Inside.

This time, I made sure to give myself wiggle room. I made sure that it was clear where I was going, but I left it vague so that I would be able to make up exactly how things happened, which would let me be creative. (I looked for a spot to take a screenshot to show you, but it’s all so spoiler-ey πŸ˜‚)

Because of this creative wiggle room, I have now been able to make up random scenes as I go along that I feel like add to the book. Even if they don’t, I could take them out when I rewrite the book. Easy.

But if they do add to the book, isn’t it awesome that I just let myself write them?

So, is it okay to let yourself go crazy with that first draft?

Definitely! If you don’t like it, you can change it later. I’m not saying that you should dive in and throw spaghetti at the wall, so to speak, by trying anything and everything without plotting. But that’s a post for another time.

Something I’ve noticed about these random scenes is that, even if they don’t totally match up with your book, usually help you to understand your character better and develop them more. If they just pop up and seem right, then you should write it, because it helps you to make them grow. These scenes also usually end up pushing the plot forward, which is super. πŸ˜‰ Seriously, there can be some really awesome gems hiding in your mind!

Now it’s your turn!

The next time you’re writing, just let yourself do whatever you want with that paper. As long as you know where your book is going, you can add in whatever you want!

A Fun Side Note:

Recently, I pulled two of my sisters (who are also writers) into drawing each other’s characters from our books! πŸ˜‰ You can check out what my sister Mary did here(it just leads to my WIP page, if you’re wondering) You can also see what Cecilia drew for Mary’s book here on Mary’s blog! I did a picture for Cecilia, but she doesn’t have a blog, so you can’t see that. πŸ˜›

Do you go with the flow in your own first draft?

Have you ever added in random scenes to your own book that weren’t plotted?

Did you enjoy that Ninjago gif? πŸ˜‰ I’m actually a fan of the show. (well, the seasons of it, not the Lego Ninjago movie)


Photo by Sergi Kabrera on Unsplash

Disclaimer: the GIF was not created by nor is owned by me.

9 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned from NaNoWriMo: Go with the Flow

  1. *evil laughs* the best part was the Ninjago GIF πŸ˜†
    I 100% agree with these tips! I’ve definitely danced into a rabbit hole before. I always end up tripping and falling through, and then I end up in Wonderland and I start to write about things WAY off subject. Um….yeah, like right now.
    Anyways, great post Julia!


    1. Ninjago DOES make everything better… πŸ˜‰
      I love that; ‘danced into a rabbit hole’. It describes the way it’s done pretty well. Haha, no problem!
      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it! πŸ˜ƒ


  2. Ugh yes, for NaNoWriMo I was getting stressed out when I came to scene where I couldn’t think of anything to say (literally I would just stare at the screen with NOTHING in my brain), so I decided that I could always come back through and add the details later. It really helped to just be able to keep going (though now I have a bunch of sections with “write fighting scene” or “describe” – lol).
    I still have to keep reminding myself that the first draft is just trying to figure out the story and that everything doesn’t have to be complete. – Anyway great post Julia!


    1. Oh no! That sucks! 😧 Do you like to listen to music while writing? I listen to music without words (though usually there are vocals in it) and it can really help inspire me/set the mood. πŸ˜‰ Maybe that would help you? Totally! Thanks; I’m glad you liked it and found it helpful! πŸ˜ƒ Good luck with your book!


  3. I can definitely relate to being super spontaneous when I’m writing! I’m near the end of my book (!!!) and I just decided to make a character who was originally dead secretly alive. And now there are a thousand plot holes. But just like you said, I can fix them while editing! Thanks for the awesome tips and good luck on the Storm Inside! I think I’ll probably buy it when you release the rewrite!
    PS I just sent you an email!


    1. Haha, I’m glad I’m not the only one! Wow, great job!! πŸ˜ƒ Ooooh, plot twist! Totally; I’m sure it’ll turn out awesome! I’m glad they were helpful. Thank you! I’m so happy that you’re interested in it! πŸ˜„ (also I feel like there were too many exclamation marks in that reply πŸ˜‚)


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