So we are two days before NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) officially begins, November 1st. Then the insanity commences.
It’s my first year attempting to write 50 000 words in 30 days. Why am I doing this crazy thing in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year? (We’re only about seven weeks off Christmas, right?)
It’s doesn’t appear to make sense, I know, but last year I thought about it. This year I AM DOING THIS THANG.
Usually if I’ve thought about something like this for any length of time, it’s because deep down, I really want to do it. In the past, I would make excuses not to, justify them and feel let down and disappointed in myself because I didn’t do what I really wanted to do, deep down in my soul. That’s all changed. I now listen to my soul whisperings. And it’s telling me to do this wild, crazy thing.
I like a challenge but I used to run from them too, even though I’d be drawn in. Again I’d make excuses and justify why I couldn’t. I am done with justifications on why I can’t. Like the Little Red Engine, my motto is “I think I can, I think I can.”
Another reason for attempting this little project? It’s my dream. Why not chase it now? I have no other answer but “Yes”.
Since I have no writing deadlines or projects in the immediate future. Except for this one: 50 000 words in 30 days.
Also, I believe God is leading me into this adventure, saying “Follow me. This is the next step.” I know, right? Why would he lead me into this adventure that seems so frivolous? It’s my experience that God doesn’t always lead in what we would term rational ways. He is radical and we follow Him radically. Do you have similar experiences?
I also love the philosophy of NaNoWriMo. Quantity not quality. It’s not as bad as it sounds. The idea is to get the story told and worry about perfecting it (rewriting) later. Just get the ideas down on the page. The first draft. It’s for your eyes only. This is how I write. Fast and with a lot of mistakes. I form the idea and then go back and make it work. A friend gave me this advice a long time ago and I find it works for me.
Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month, called it “exuberant imperfection.” He writes in his book, “It dictates that the best way to tackle daunting, paralysis-inducing challenges is to give yourself permission to make mistakes, and then go ahead and make them.” (p. 38, No Plot? No Problem) He goes on to make even more sense, “By giving yourself the gift of imperfection, you tap into the realms of intuition and imagination that your hypercritical brain normally censors. (p.39)
So true! I’m eager to see what comes out of this month of intense writing!
Baty also addresses the fear. Fear is what has kept me from attempting this in the past. Fear I couldn’t tell a story. Fear I wasn’t good enough and didn’t have the talent. Baty writes, “At the first awkward line of prose or botched brushstroke, we hurriedly pack away the art supplies and scamper back to our domains of proficiency.” (p. 38) Don’t we though? I see it in my kids too. They don’t want to try things because they are afraid they’ll make a mistake. Or they think they should have it perfect the first time through. Why do we get like that?
For this time, I’m going to bash that fear of imperfection. Believe me it wins more times than I care to confess, but this once I’m not going to let it take over. I have permission to make mistakes and make it ugly at first.
I’m hoping that the courage to be imperfect is contagious and it catches on in more areas of my life. And maybe with my kids too. That they’ll be able to have fun trying and not worry about outcomes all the time. I think it’s a valuable life lesson.
I’m not alone in this either. I know there are lots of you out there that just need permission to make a mess and have a glorious time doing it. That’s part of what this next month is about. That’s somehow liberating.
The only thing fear is going to do is motivate me to finish the 50 000 words. That’s considered acceptable. And if for some reason I don’t, I’m still ahead any words I do write. Win-win.
So starting November 1st, if you see my family, you might want to extend a hand of sympathy to them as they are going to be witnessing the frantic writer/crazy person in first person. My best friends will be pre-made food (not a regular dinner guest at our table), coffee in my Wonder Woman mug and my chiropractor (aching back, headaches and carpel tunnel syndrome all possible in the next 30 days).
Feel free to encourage, ask my word count (not every day please) and generally give friendly reminders to not give up even when the muse has walked out the door.
NaNoWriMo 2017: 50 000 words in 30 days or BUST. (That’s 1667 words a day for those of you who are challenged mathematically, like myself.)
What crazy dream are you following right now?
PS: It’s very hard to push the Publish button on this one. Once done, I’m accountable. Ahhhhh!