This month kicked off the annual NaNoWriMo challenge. I wasn’t going to say much about it because I think Chuck Wendig has done a pretty good job on his blog talking about national novel writing month. Or I like to call it the put your money where your mouth is and get off your ass and go write that novel month. If you want to be a writer you must sit your ass in the chair with your fingers on the keyboard and… well… actually write something.
It’s all about the word count. A sort of sucky kind of productivity but it gives you a taste of what it means to be a writer and teaches you the value of editing. It’s much better to have a shitty first draft than a blank page sitting in front of you. You can’t edit if you have nothing to fix.
There is no wormhole that can shortcut the spacetime gap between your desire to write and your ability to do it properly. There is no better way to learn craft and become a better writer than actual writing.
I got this idea from somewhere else. But I read so many blogs, authors, and books about craft that I couldn’t tell you where the idea originated. The blank page can be intimidating. Creation has never intimidated me. When I first started writing I stuck with short stories. These short bursts of creativity were much easier to manage. Getting lost in a much longer work scared me more than a blank page. Rambling on into 50K or more was some scary shit.
So I used to have a post-it note on my computer monitor that said: “I give myself permission to write a shitty first draft. I will fix it on revision.”
It wasn’t an original idea. I read it somewhere. But it really seemed to help. It freed me from worrying about writing a clean first draft. I could produce an utter piece of jacked up shit and it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter because no one would read it. It wouldn’t leave my harddrive and venture out into the world until I deemed it ready for consumption.
And the very first book you write might never be ready for public consumption.
The point, the take-away, is that you actually finished a first draft of a full length novel. That’s huge. You’re a writer. You completed something that most people only dream of. That’s pretty fucking awesome!
Last week another author who I admire (ok, I’m a total fan girl) sent me the image below on a day when I’d received yet another rejection letter. I have replaced the post-it note by printing this and hanging it on the wall above my desk. It’s an ever present reminder of what motivates every word that takes the page.
What motivates your writing?