“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. The enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”
– Anne LaMott from Bird by Bird
I’ve accepted an assignment this month (as if I really need another one). A writing friend challenged me to sign up for National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.” We began writing November 1st and our goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. We are three days into it and I have written exactly no words. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
As of midnight tonight (which is the approximate time at which I typically finish this newsletter and hit SEND), I will have 27 days remaining. I’ll need to average 1850 words per day to finish this marathon, but when I’m done, I’ll have the beginnings of my very own shitty first draft.
The NaNoWriMo website which can be found at http://www.nanowrimo.org explains, “It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.” It’s sort of a club for writers like me who know there’s a book brewing somewhere beneath the belly, but who’ve been afraid to sit still long enough to get it down on paper. In keeping with LaMott’s admonition, I will be pumping out purple prose by the pound in the coming weeks. I’ll be throwing caution to the wind, grabbing every cliche I can find just to get words on paper and leave my internal critic in the dust as I race toward the tape.
Here’s my challenge to you. If you’re up to it, go for the marathon. Sign up for National Novel Writing Month and join me in this long haul. If a 26K overwhelms you, go for the fun run or the walk. Just promise to do something. Choose a number of words or a number of minutes and promise yourself (and me) that you will write that many words or for that many minutes by the end of the month. At the end, let me know how you did. It’s a race. Stay one step ahead of that nagging voice in your head by keeping your hand moving. Don’t think. Just write.
Go! I’ll see you at the finish line.
Nita(it’s one for the money, two for the show)Sweeney
(c) 2004 by Nita Sweeney