2015 is the first year I’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo, which for those who don’t know stands for national novel writing month. It’s the first year I’ve done it because it’s the first year I’ve heard about it. NaNoWriMo was set up to motivate writers to write, the goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. Crazy right? Of course, that’s the point. Break up the total and it comes out to 1,667 words a day, which isn’t unreachable especially if writing is what you do. 7 days in however and I’m starting to get a little fogged up so I decided to take a breather and write this blog post about what I should be writing about.
In my life right now I have three main goals when it comes to writing. 1) Publish first novel My Famous Friend (still looking for an agent) 2) Write the already brainstormed Christian fiction novel based on biblical truth. 3) Write the nonfiction story that is a memoir of the past four years of my life (in progress). On the eve of NaNoWriMo I changed my novel plan, I swapped the order of writing goals 2 and 3. Though I didn’t see it coming I’m drafting out my real life memories before constructing a made up world anchored in Christianity. As a writer you have to go with what moves you. Muse is so very rarely where you need it to be. I wanted to write Christian fiction first but I could only build so far. I changed it up last minute because of the nagging, not from the people in my life, from the people in my head. Writing is the socially acceptable form of Schizophrenia. My memories of old would not leave me be, even though I promised the old me her stories would get told, I even set a deadline with a countdown see? The past and my memories were just not having it, things kept triggering me so I decided it was time to grab the gun and aim it at a target.
Now here I am a few weeks later having partially planned two books and drafting out the nonfiction novel much earlier than expected. I started off my word count strong, memories written in splices and spontaneous scenes. Then of course some present day thoughts and ramblings and now I’m trying to connect the dots so that the story makes sense to someone who didn’t live it. Since I’m currently stuck with magnets that repel instead of shoelaces that nicely intertwine I’m blogging about my progress and the bits of writing wisdom I’ve picked up along the way. God bless Kristen A. Kieffer from She’s Novel and the many others who have the gift of helping writers write. She wrote an article with the essentials for winning NaNoWriMo as well as just becoming a great writer. Mostly what I took from it is the warning to not edit as you go. For me and many writers alike editing just sort of comes with the territory though I would never call myself an editor, that inner critic refuses to keep quiet, heck I’ve even gone back and edited this less than a 1.000 word piece a few times. In order to win NaNoWriMo, in order to actually get some writing done it’s imperative to ignore your inner editor. Do whatever is necessary to tune out the bellowing prisoner, you hold the key and the time will come to be set free but probably not until draft two or three. For now, put on some proverbial headphones and pour into the pages.
“The first draft of anything is sh*t.” said by one of the literary greats, for me it offers immense relief. All I have to do for now is write garbage. Until November 30th I just have to write words. That’s it, just words. I can do that. It’s fine if they’re terrible. I can totally do that! The trouble comes when I keep refining and rewording and rewriting before I even get to reach a good pause point. Bad writing though, well I can do that anytime! Even Hemingway did it. So if draft one feels like a mess, an overly salty chewy hunk of meat that before leaving the shelf and falling into my hands had serious mouthwatering potential that is okay. Fear not. Nothing is forever ruined. NaNoWriMo is just the beginning, brainstorming is just the start, ruining the recipe once just shows what not to do the next time. As writers we need to be burnt and bitter before we create something better. Get your hands dirty. Say everything, yes everything. Dress it up later.
As for me, in this year’s NaNoWriMo competition I’m granting myself permission to purge. Everything I can think of is going to go onto the pages. That’s how I’ll make word count, that’s how I’ll win, and that’s how I’ll end up with a story that I wrote. That’s the start of how I’ll become someone who wrote not one but two books! As a person who despises vomit above nearly everything I never thought I’d make this statement but I cannot wait to purge.