How are all my happy writers this morning? We’re entering Week 2 of NaNoWriMo, and the challenge is real. The heat is getting intense. Ideas are dropping to a trickle. I would say “the end is near,” but we’re far from it. Far, far from the end…
It’s about this time that reality sets in for many of us. Whether we’re running out of story to write, or we haven’t been able to write at all, Week 2 is defined by the anxious fretting that we’re all about to become losers.
Yes, losers. That’s the thought rolling around and around – our inner editor voice. “You can’t stay on track. Look at you, you’re a mess. You’ve run out of things to write about. You know what, your story isn’t even that good. I mean, let’s be real – your plot is faulty, your timeline is a mess, you’re going to have to go back and overhaul everything you’ve been writing, and just think about that overhaul. I mean, thiiiiiink about it. You’re doomed before you even begin. Your main character is an idiot. You should just get rid of her. And what’s will all these empty supporting characters. You’re terrible at writing people. Boooorrrriiiiiinnnnnng!!!”
That is the voice of our inner editor. It’s brutal. Especially during the creative process. This is why our amazing TEAM at National Novel Writing Month encourages – and urges – us to put our silly little inner editor in a box, lock the box, put the key in a safe place, put the box in your closet, and bury it in clothes (you know, so you can’t hear the muffled screams and accusations.)
This year, I have a small band of writing buddies, but we check in with each other every day. That’s super important to me. I get a few texts in the morning: “147 words before noon!” or “32. I got 32. I fail.” And we encourage and boost each other forward. Some days I need the encouragement, and they never fail to come alongside me with advice and enthusiasm. Sometimes they need it, and I’m quick to step up to the plate. You know, I honestly wish life was like this. Every day, we touch base with our team and talk the real talk.
NaNo teaches me to be honest. I can’t lie to my team saying I’m making all these words, when the word count on my NaNo dashboard clearly states otherwise. And why would I lie? There’s something about claiming false glory that festers inside you, eating away at your conscious in a most unsavory manner. We tell little white lies all the time – ones we can brush off and have no lasting effect because they cover our butts at work, or save us from humiliation around family or friends (who, if we’re very honest, we don’t like anyway.) But there are some lies we can’t tell, because they defile our character. They leave a lasting tarnish, one you can’t scrub away with all the classic home remedies in the world.
NaNo teaches me to be honest, even when I’m failing. I can handle failure. It’s scary at first, but I know I’ll survive it. I can’t handle dishonesty. At it’s core, it’s just ugly. Dishonesty harms you. Even if it affects no one else, it tears you down from the inside.
But what is failure? Let’s look at that one. My mentor and friend always tells me failure is the unwillingness to even try. I’m sorry, Yoda, but “do or do not, there is no try” doesn’t work in the real world. Because if you don’t try, you never end up doing. When I was tossing around the idea of publishing my books, she looked at me point blank and said, “I don’t care if you sell twenty books or twenty hundred. If you never try, you’ll never know, and that is where you will fail. The fact of the matter is, you were willing to put yourself out there where other people only talk about it.”
Success is the act of doing. So maybe Yoda was right after all? If we do it, we’ve done it! But if we never do, we’ll have done nothing.
So go out there every day and try! Write 2 words, or 5 words, or 1,667 words! And do it every day! Because at the end of a month, you’ll have 60 words, or 150, or 50,000 words!
And that, my dears, is how you write. You just do it.
This has been,
Fanny T. Crispin
(Side note, it was soooooooo tempting to split up all my contractions for the sake of word count… The struggle is real.”