I had hoped that this would be a more optimistic post—something along the lines of ‘I wrote 5 000 words and had a great time, I will write a book this month and am generally amazing’. That is not what happened.
At this stage, the sun is down, I’m already tired and I haven’t written much. I made the mistake of procrastinating, re-reading what I had, looking at ‘research’, reading a new book that arrived today, and basically doing anything but writing.
But! The day’s not over yet. I haven’t given up on my 2 000 words1, but I’ve already had to confront my issues with perfectionism. There’s still a ridiculous voice in the back of my head that thinks waiting until the universe aligns and the right idea and the right mood and the right weather will align and a book will float from my fingertips and land in the world, perfect the first time and undeniably brilliant.
Why stop at one, while we’re daydreaming. Why not two books in a month, or three!
It’s ridiculous, of course. Writing doesn’t work like that, books don’t work like that, I certainly don’t work like that. Pretending that ‘circumstances’ are preventing me from working on my book is ridiculous—I’m writing this blog post right now. I am capable of communicating ideas to other people in a semi-coherent manner, and I’m certainly capable of coming up with ideas for alternate worlds and characters.
I’m the only problem in the scenario, and my hard-to-shake notions that at some undefined future point this will become easier, or I’ll become better (without writing), or something will change (without me changing it) is ridiculous. The first draft is for getting the words out, everything else is for making them good, and readable, and logical and consistent. This should be the easiest part of the process, and all I have to do to fix the present is stop looking so far into the future.
If you also struggle with any of these issues, I suggest you do what I’m about to and just ignore the niggling feeling that not writing is the safer, easier, better choice and just write the words. You can fix them later, but write them down now. There’s a quote that I’m sure you’ve seen superimposed over images on social media before, but at this point I think it bears repeating (for myself, if no one else).
“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
Go forth, fellow NaNoWriMo writers, and shovel sand!
1I know that’s technically a little more than is required to reach 50 000 by the end of the month, but for reasons that may already be obvious—see, massive issues with procrastination—I like to leave myself some wiggle room