To help prod the creative writer in me to get off my ass, I decided I needed something to spur me along, to give me a target to shoot for when I sit down and look at my computer. And so, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month for the first time a few days ago.
The goal is to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30th. They don't necessarily have to be good words and in fact, the organizers advise against excessive editing, rewrites, or deletions. The goal is to get to 50,000 and then you can start worrying about whether or not it's any good, or as they say in the helpful tips section:
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
I've had an idea I've wanted to work on for a long time but have been held up because I didn't really know where I want it to go. I'm the type of writer who feels like I need the details all planned out to ensure that I get where I want to go. I'm the same way with opening paragraphs -- in college I'd agonize over an opening paragraph for hours sometimes because that small bit of text provided the thematic hook for the entire paper. (I'm still that way though I don't agonize for quite as long now.) The idea of trying to write a novel without knowing exactly where I want to go with it makes me uncomfortable.
However, with this project, I know how I wanted to start it but honestly, my ideas for where it would end up just haven't felt quite right. It's not really writer's block...more like a writer lacking a map.
National Novel Writing Month gives me an excuse to ignore the wished-for map for a while and instead just write, let the ideas flow, and see where they take me.
I might not like where I end up but I'll have forced myself to plow on and push through, getting back into fighting trim as it were for the purposes of writing. Who knows? Maybe something will shake loose and I'll figure out how the story needs to end or, if nothing else, how to continue it. But one thing I won't do is stop writing or scrap what I've done because:
There's an old folk saying that goes: Whenever you delete a sentence in your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground.