Okay it’s taken me a long time to figure this out. Like YEARS.
Every year, November rolls around and I’m super excited about doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). You write 50,000 words in 30 days and it’s a piece of cake, right? RIGHT! And I think to myself – wow, this will be a great way to start my new project/finish my project. This will be SO EASY!
November 1 shows up and I put it off. I’ll do it tomorrow, I think, because I’m still having a Halloween hangover from all the candy I ate and the wine I drank. What? You don’t drink wine on Halloween?
November 2. Let’s do this! Only to fizzle out and stare at a blank page.
November 3! I’m so doing this. NOT.
November 4…Ugh. I don’t want to write.
By the time Thanksgiving arrives, I have a viable excuse NOT to write. I have to cook, clean, get ready for Thanksgiving. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Pet the cat.
All told, I had 18 no writing days during the month.
When I see it in on paper, that’s really depressing. I think begin a session of self-berating and continue to beat myself up about not writing/the book sucks/you name it.
I took a step back this year, though, and took a hard look at why I sabotage myself. It’s that knowing I have to write every day of the month thing. Even when I tell myself I don’t have to write every day, it still niggles at the back of my head that I HAVE TO WRITE EVERY DAY. And so, I don’t. And then I end up with 18 no-writing days and tell myself how absolute sucky I am and that I’m a failure.
I am so not a failure. I had a great holiday. I had time off from work where I got to do what I wanted. I spent time with family. That is not a failure! That is an accomplishment.
I think NaNo is a great tool for new writers who want to complete a novel. But for me, not a new writer, I don’t need that tool as much as I need to discipline myself and write the words that matter. Not the words that are just junk on the page. I’m not a perfectionist by any means, but I am the type of writer that has to go back and re-read the previous days’ work to get the creative juices flowing again. And sitting down to “barf” out the words doesn’t work for me. Plus, my books have grown a lot longer than 50k because I usually have a lot of story to tell.
I can’t write every day either; I write Monday through Friday. I typically do not write on the weekends because that’s reserved for the family and errands and weekend stuff.
I think the most important lesson is to know my process. I think the idea of NaNo puts too much pressure on me to allow the creativity to flow. That is NOT my process. Even though I adore the idea of getting that Winner badge, I don’t think it’s really something I need to achieve anymore to feel like a writer.
I already AM a writer.