I am assuming that everyone knows what NaNoWriMo is, but just in case you don’t, it’s a writing community challenge, in which people sign up to write fifty thousand words during November. The idea is that you can get a novel – or a draft of one, or the bones of one, anyway – written in a month.
A lot of people love it and some have gone on to produce published, even award-winning novels from it. But until now, I have avoided it.
This is partly because November is often a busy month for me and partly because I have never liked word count as a measure of progress. Contrary to a lot of writing advice, I edit as I go, which means that when it comes to comparing numbers of words written in a day, I can’t keep up with people who like to write a ‘dirty draft’ then fix it up later.
But… while I’m cool with how I write, lately I’ve been finding that I just haven’t been getting enough done.
Now, I could put this down to a number of things. I have been busy lately and this November is not going to be any less busy than usual. It would be easy to cut myself slack and say it’s just life.
But I think there’s more to it than that. I think I have been succumbing to The Fear. This fear has always been with me when it comes to writing. It’s the fear that I won’t be good enough. That I won’t be able to do justice to the ideas in my head and that I’ll let down my characters and my readers.
You’d think, now that I’ve had a book published, that the fear would lessen. But in fact I think it’s got worse. It’s not conscious – it certainly isn’t rational – but lately I’ve noticed that my productivity has gone to hell and I think this might be the cause.
So, I’ve decided that a concerted push at just getting the words down might be just the ticket to get me over this hump. I probably won’t sign up at the main site (link above) mostly because I really don’t need yet another online community to keep track of. But I will keep track of my progress here. At the beginning (or end, maybe) of each post, I’ll report how I’m going on the numbers, with the hope that, at the end, of the month, I’ll be well over this hump, have heaps of work done and have created new habits that will keep me steaming ahead into next year.
And to keep me motivated, I will have this clip from Lord of the Rings (The Return of the King) on high rotation:
Except that, with apologies to Aragorn, Tolkien, Peter Jackson, et al, in my head the words will be something like this:
I see on this blank page, the fear that would take the heart of me.
The day may come when the courage of Melda fails,
When I forsake my vision and break all bonds of story;
But it is not this day!
This day I write!
Do you have anything that holds you back from things you want to do? How do you handle it? Seriously, I’d love to know!