Wow! I can’t believe its been two weeks since I last posted to my blog! Time has simply slipped away…. Now as a consequence of this I am flabbergasted to find that I have missed the start of NaNoWriMo – National November Writing Month to those of you who are not writers or who may not know about such a thing. It is an event where people sign up to write 50,000 words before the end of the month. You can find more information at http://www.nanowrimo.org/.
I wanted so badly to participate this year but as has been the case for the last couple of years, my schedule just won’t allow it. There is so much going on in my life currently – one rather tedious and stress-inducing full-time job; one sometimes-troublesome-not-quite-a-teenager daughter; two unconventional and definitely stress-provoking in-laws; the small matter of a few hospital appointments; and of course my existing novel! And so it doesn’t seem wise to become involved in another time-consuming project.
The reason I’m so eager to participate is that I think NaNoWriMo is an activity that is particularly well-suited to writers like me, who live in paralyzing fear of imperfection.
I have tried to be any other writer but the one I am. I have tried to mull things over and to be very careful and deliberate as I work and to proceed slowly through drafts. I have tried detailed outlines and planning and story mapping. All that these attempts did for me is give me more time to doubt myself, more space to second-guess things, and the result was drafts that were just as messed up as all the drafts I had written quickly, that required just as much revision.
Some people need time and a slower pace. Other people need to churn out a fast, sloppy draft so they know what their story is before they try to make something of it. Some people relish their first draft. Other people pretty much spend all their drafting time with the fear of imperfection chasing them to the end (just like me!).
NaNoWriMo, I believe, is a fantastic opportunity for writers like me, who need to rip off the band-aid of first drafting so they can get to the good stuff– the revising. NaNoWriMo is an exercise in forgiving yourself for the grotesque imperfections of your first draft. It can teach you to allow things in your life to be “good enough…for now,” instead of experiencing the anxious desire to tweak…. continually! And NaNoWriMo gives you the added bonus of a writing community to cheer you on when you’re down, push you when your motivation has already ran out the door screaming, and dance around excitedly with you as you celebrate.
Yes for me, NaNoWriMo provides the opportunity to learn a very important lesson in writing. Life is full of imperfect things–imperfect works, imperfect stories, and imperfect moments. You can’t fix them all, especially not RIGHT NOW! And I think us perfectionists need to learn to stay in that uncomfortable place where you know something needs work but you aren’t going to fix it yet.
So NaNoers…GO FORTH and use this month to get words on the page, to make friends, to make mistakes, to learn, to make plans to revise, and to celebrate the utterly imperfect but altogether amazing accomplishment of writing a whole crap-load of words.