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November 27, 2013 / catherinebwrites

Stretch Your Writing by Nikolas Baron

Stretch Your Writing
Every year around this time, writers all over the world are getting ready for National Novel Writing Month. In November, this anxious band of authors will attempt to write novels of 50,000 words each, in a single month. That’s about 1,167 words a day, every day for 30 days. They call it NaNoWriMo for short, and it’s become quite the tradition since its inception in 1999. Right now, hundreds of thousands of writers are preparing for this marathon writing event.
If you’re gearing up for NaNoWriMo, you’re probably preparing your story material—outlines, and notecards—and taking care of software updates so that you’ll be ready to go November 1st. You may even be surrounding yourself with inspirational writing propaganda—creating playlists, character sketches, or even going as far as building individual Pinterest boards for your story or your characters. What you’re absolutely NOT thinking about is grammar or editing—it’s the furthest thing from your mind, and that’s a good thing.
The truth is, to complete 50,000 words in November, you just need to focus on writing content. The NaNoWriMo website will tell you that the month of November is all about quantity—hitting or exceeding your daily word count. You are not even allowed to think about editing…yet.
This may be hard for you, but it is definitely hard for me. I work at Grammarly, and I know the importance of editing your work. I spend most of my time researching tools that writers use to edit and enhance their writing, and I pass this information on to our product strategy team—who, in turn, use it to come up with intuitive solutions for our customers. It is definitely hard for me to tell you to wait to edit until December, but in this instance, I am. After NaNoWriMo, in December, a group called NaNoEdMo comes together to edit their finished NaNo novels.
This is a great follow-up to NaNoWriMo. Use December and the coming months to streamline your writing—clean up your work to prepare for the next phase of the writing process. You can choose to submit it to a publisher or literary agent, or maybe you’re looking to self-publish. Regardless, you want to make sure that your work is flawless and represents the very best you can offer.
While there are many online tools you can use for editing, this phase of writing has gone past simple spell-check. Whatever program you used to write your NaNo novel will more than likely have this tool as part of its word processing software, but it never hurts to go back through and run a check again. This is also a good time to utilize support forms and writers groups for critique. The NaNoEdMo forum is just the place to connect with other writers who are willing to offer help in regards to editing your novel. Take them up on it, but also try to return the favor when you can.
Also, consider using a service like Grammarly. You can feed your text into our system and it will check over 250 advanced grammar rules. No matter what you’re writing, be it a novel or an academic or professional paper, Grammarly will point out errors instantly to help you polish your work.
Another important part of Grammarly’s service is the ability to check for plagiarism. It’s easy to be inspired by the many things we read each day, so you might have picked up a little something unintentionally. Use this tool to help define areas you should consider editing to make sure that your work is 100% your own.
You still have time to prepare for NaNoWriMo. Head over to the website and sign up, add a little story information, and add some writing buddies—it doesn’t cost anything to participate. Thousands of writers will kick off at midnight November 1, 2013, so join in the fun and stretch your imagination to the limit.
I’ll give you permission to push this grammar business out of your head for November, but promise me you’ll revisit it in December.
Nikolas Baron [nbaron@grammarly.com]
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