So, I pledged to be this carefree, un-self-conscious, whimsical, no diggity spirit here – but where’s the proof?
Here it is, my friends. I am currently writing a novel.
I know, I know. It sounds so moody and lofty and angsty and like I picture myself as some sort of Hemingway. No, none of that is true (and don’t get me started on Hemingway).
Here’s the backstory (yes, that is a technical writing term, and yes, that means I’m practically published already): in January, one of my literarily-minded and go-getter friends excitedly emailed me about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), in which participants throw caution (and their inner editor) to the wind and write 50,000 words in a month. My inner editor is extremely dominant and aggressive, so that made me a little nervous. But the idea is that anyone who has ever wanted to write a novel can do it. Having a month to finish this task provides a deadline that overrides any overthinking and pressure to churn out a National Book Award Winner. The official month is November, but we saw no reason to wait and decided to see what our brains could do in March.
So, here I am, seven days into my month-long attempt. I’m at 9,000 words (if you do the math with the 1,660 daily word quota, you’ll see I’m already behind). At this point, I have embraced my mundane plot, cliche dialogue, and completely inconsistent characters (one minute she’s a prissy brat, the next she’s a selfless nature-lover – oops).
What I have discovered in this first week:
1) 1,660 is a big number
2) I have no idea how my brain comes up with things. Why does the old cranky janitor have a snowglobe and a pair of lace lady’s gloves on his bookcase? I don’t know. I don’t even feel like I consciously typed that, but the words are there on the page so I must have.
3) It is freeing to accept cliche and mediocrity. When you are going for quantity over quality, you have to lower your standards. Normally, producing work less than your best may make you feel sad and unsuccessful, but, trust me, when I reach my daily goal, I am stoked and proud, regardless of what I actually wrote. When I read it later, it is admittedly bad. Inexplicably, I don’t care, and I enjoy it more than anything I have ever written.
4) Taking a chance to do this is making me feel bolder in other parts of my life. I admit that I like to do things well, but this experience is getting me used to the idea that it is absolutely okay (and enjoyable even) not to be stellar at everything, and so that shouldn’t hold you back from trying. There’s some intense training for work that I have been putting off since I was hired…last May. This week I decided, hell yeah, I’m going to get it done by the end of next week. Ain’t no stoppin’ me now.
4) I am a really productive procrastinator. This Sunday, I knew I had to write 3,000 words to catch up to where I should be. But, before you assume correctly that I did not reach this goal and begin to chastise me, listen to the things I did instead! I went on a 6 mile run, I stretched thoroughly afterward, I took a nice long shower, I made scones, I washed all the dishes, I watered every plant in the house, I took a survey about which Downton Abbey character I am, I did laundry, I met up with someone for coffee, and I made broccoli chicken lemon risotto (ahhh) with friends.
Wow, what truly beautiful photography. But regardless of how it looks in that photo, the food was delicious, and as a bonus it cleared away all the guilt I had for not writing. Temporarily.