Nanowrimo – the remedy for fear

November is coming!  And we all know what that means! It’s time to throw caution to the wind, to shut down that inner editor, to spend a glorious, heady month exploring worlds and people that you create, to write without fear, to create, to discover.  To write 50,000 words in 30 days.

In short, it’s National Novel Writing Month.  Nanowrimo to us cool kids.

I heartily recommend Nanowrimo to every single person who has ever wanted to put pen to paper.  It is writing in its purest form.  The daily word count encourages participants to just go.  The focus is quantity, not quality, and in order to get that quantity, you need to be willing to write even when its hard.  Even when you’re sure every word you’re writing is absolutely terrible.  You have to give yourself permission to write crap, and that’s incredibly freeing.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  It just has to be.

And there, dear readers, is the secret.  Because quality comes out of quantity.  You need to write, to write fearlessly, to give yourself permission to write crap in order to push through and create anyway. If you only write this one time per year, it demonstrates the creative potential we all have inside us, regardless of ability, training, or experience.  Because ability, training, and experience come through doing. Always.

As a writer, it is very easy for me to get wrapped in fear concerning my work.  I have a couple published short stories and a novel, so I should be secure in my abilities as a writer, right?  Wrong.  I’m constantly second-guessing myself, wondering if those publications are flukes, or that I used to be good but now my writing is terrible.  From what I understand, this isn’t an unusual experience at all.  The worst thing about this, though, is that the fear is paralyzing, and as such becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.  I worry that I can’t write, that worry makes it harder for me to write, and confirms my fear that I can’t write.  For me, Nanowrimo breaks that cycle, and reminds me that I can write, and that it’s okay if what comes out is terrible, because that’s how every writer gets to the good stuff.

I’ve participated in Nanowrimo for several years.  I’ve won (a.k.a., finished) twice.  The first manuscript ultimately became my novel Haunted.  (If you’d like to check it out, I’ve posted the first three chapters for free here!)  The process of turning the initial manuscript into a published novel is a perfect demonstration of quality coming from quantity.  When I finished Nanowrimo that year, I had written a little over 50,000 words.  In its published form, Haunted is a little less that 34,000 words long (technically a novella).  That’s over 16,000 words that I had to cut, 16,000 words of quantity that I had to get through in order to get 34,000 words of quality.

Now, I said I finished twice.  The second manuscript…well.  The less said about it, the better.  It will never see the light of day.  And that’s okay.  When you write, nothing is useless.  Even things that you would never even show your own mother are, at the very least, practice.  At best, they provide bits and pieces that can be woven into future work.  A plot.  A setting.  A character.

This year, I plan on writing a sequel to Haunted, but I also plan on writing it the way I wrote Haunted, denying fear and focusing on quantity, knowing that once I’m done I will either be able to whittle it down to quality, or I will have a collection of ideas that I can build on.  Either one will be a victory.

So, dear readers!  Do you plan on participating in Nanowrimo this year?  If so, do you know what you want to write about, or will you start writing and see where it takes you?

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