Unless you’re viewing this from your phone, you may have noticed the NaNoWriMo’s winner badge on the right hand side of the blog. Yes, I wrote 50,000 words in one month, and yes, I was amazed that I did so. Why? Because it is so hard to just sit down and write on a regular basis. This competition that isn’t really a competition gave me the motivation to do so. And thus, I was able to get all my ideas out to write the first part of a novel that I am still working on to this day.
December was a different story. I was proud of what I accomplished in November. I went to work all day, came home, and wrote. That was amazing for someone who only used to write on weekends and who used to make the tired after work excuse not to write. So how much did I write in December? A measly 2,000 words or so. So why such a huge difference? Life. Life got crappy and any leftover motivation I still possessed from the month before just flew out the window. Funerals and learning you’ll be unemployed come the next year will do that to your creativity.
Yet, I managed to get 2,000 words out. That has to count for something right? I still wrote. It was still a passion, and it did help me get through that tough time. I think the real reason that I did not write as much was that I had the uncontrollable urge to edit those first 50,000 words. That kept me from moving on with the story in the same free way I wrote it during November. I was no longer writing without worry about grammar, word choice, and all that, but thinking too much as I wrote. Thus, the slow word count. It’s a first draft; it doesn’t have to be pretty. So why do writer’s have that urge to edit as we go along? Do we think it will mean less work when the draft is done? Maybe.
January comes along. Another slow start to the month. I decide to give my story a break, sort of. Instead of writing, I played around with my cast for a few days. That’s right, I did a fake casting call, placing pictures of actors above my character’s names, searching/googling for hours for the perfect actors to play every role in my story so far. It was time consuming. And I guiltily thought to myself that I should be writing. In the end, however, it was worth it. Once I did get back to my story, I was able to write 4,000 words – in one day! Somehow, that little exercise sparked my creativity. January has proven to be a productive month, and there’s still two weeks left. I doubt I’ll do as well as November, but hey, you never know. I’ve already written about 10,000 words this month.
I find if I suppress the urge to edit and just sit down and write, that I can move my story along at a good pace. I do outline. In fact, I spent a lot of October planning my story. My outline changes as I go along, which is great, because sometimes initial ideas don’t work once you let the story take over. It’s good to have a general idea of where you’re going before you start writing, at least in my experience. Being a pantser might work for some, but not for me.
So, if you want to write a novel, just sit down and write. Because thinking of it, planning it will only go so far. You have to actually write it, you know? And don’t let real life get in the way of doing so. You have a job? Write on the weekends, in the evenings. It can be done. Need motivation? Set deadlines for yourself, in the same way that NaNoWriMo set a deadline for writing that many words, you can set your own goals. Ask a friend to cheer you on or write with you. Most of all, just write! Stifle your inner editor and let the words flow.
And if what comes out is so horrible and embarrassing, no one has to know. It’s only a first draft. You’re not going to send that to an agent, at least not right away… I hope. The most important thing for me when I write is to have fun. So have fun! Don’t let writing become a chore; make it something you look forward to after a long day. Good luck!