National Novel Writing Month

I’ve been busy with NaNoWriMo this November, and I hope other writers will join me.

Something I’ve said (repeatedly) is that your first draft is allowed to be shit. It’s supposed to be. Crap writing. Take shortcuts. Use your adverbs. Whatever. Just get it out on paper. Because when you revise, you’ll see your shortcuts and you’ll fix them. Anything your character knew? They’ll show it instead. Those adverbs? You’ll turn them into description later.  The point is to stop scrapping your first drafts and finish your work.

But don’t just take my word for it. Listen to Stephanie Perkins.

Sometimes the things that matter the most to us are the hardest things to actually do. Sometimes they matter so much that we never do them, because our fear of failure is stronger than our fear of not even trying.

Before NaNoWriMo, I’d never finished a draft of a novel. I’d worked for seven years on an idea, and I only had seventy pages to show for it. My fear was growing. I was beginning to believe that I didn’t have the discipline necessary to become an author, and it was devastating.

I used to pooh-pooh NaNoWriMo: “How could anyone write good novel in a month?”

But I was missing the point. It isn’t about writing a good novel. It’s about writing a novel. It’s about finishing what you’ve started—a lesson I certainly still needed to learn. I signed up out of desperation. If I couldn’t write something with a beginning, middle, and end before December, I’d stop trying. I let go of my fear of writing a bad novel and used that pent-up energy to fuel the act of writing itself.

Here’s what I want you to know: The kindest thing you can do for yourself right now is to let go of this fear. Don’t worry about writing something bad. Just write.

Just write. Eventually, you’ll have a novel. You’ll have great ideas. Those ideas can be worked into visions. You can do this.

Via National Novel Writing Month.