good morning, cyberspace!
and welcome to the VERY FIRST DAY OF NANOWRIMO, 2018!!! ASDFGHJKL!! Even though I’m writing this post exactly six days in advance, I still cannot stop myself from getting the extreme nervous jitters every single time I think about the fact that it is officially time to begin The NaNo.
*insert incoherent screaming here*
I honestly cannot believe that it is November yet again. It feels like just yesterday that I started the first draft of everlost in 2016, and yet here we are, beginning a brand new November with a brand new story in a brand new year. And though I’m extremely pumped to be able to begin a new story after two entire years of working on everlost, it’s still just plain terrifying to think about.
So for today’s smudge I decided to do a pep talk. I’m not sure if I’m going to write any more of these throughout the month (i’m going to be focusing primarily on writing my book for the next thirty days, which means the blog might slip somewhere into The Land of Desolation), but for today — for Day One of NaNoWriMo — I figured we could all use a little kick in the pants to get us to start writing.
. . .okay. So maybe I just needed someone to give me a kick in the pants to force me to start writing. Aha. Hahahahahaha.
So without further ado, let’s get on with the pep! *flings peppermint and pompoms at your face*
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Hello, fellow Wrimos! Before I start getting too deep into the actual “Pep-Talk” of this post, I want to take a moment to congratulate you. Despite all of the things you could be doing this month — despite all of the shows on Netflix you could be binge-ing and all of the books you could be reading and all of the chocolate you could be ingesting — you have chosen to do something that most people simply dream about. You, my friend, have chosen to write a book.
In thirty days.
Because that is obviously not completely insane in any way whatsoever. Aha.
You see, writing a book is never easy. There’s the plotting and the decision-making and the story structuring. There’s the character development, the construction of settings, the creation of a world that has never existed outside of your own head. And that’s not even mentioning the actual act of writing. The creation of a new story — or even the reinvention of an old one — is difficult. Exceedingly so. But the actual writing, the task of sitting your butt down in a chair every. single. day. so that you can stare at a blank screen and pray that the words will finally come, the physical movement of tapping your fingers against the keys or scratching a pencil against a page in your notebook. . . The actual art of writing a book. . .
That is nearly impossible.
Ask any great writer how they wrote such a marvelous piece of literature, and you are guaranteed to get one of many variations on a single theme — they have absolutely no clue. No writer knows exactly what they are doing when they start. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that most writers have absolutely no clue what they’re doing when they start. Or even after they start. Or even once they’ve finished.
But it doesn’t matter whether or not you fully understand what you’re writing. What matters is that you take a chance and start.
Writing a book is confusing. It’s taking little scenes and sketches of imagery that you see in your head and trying to piece them together on a page until they start to cling to some form of coherency. It’s bringing characters to life and making readers fall in love with a person that will never actually exist. It’s crafting worlds and telling stories and putting your heart and your soul into every single word, and no one — not a one of us — knows what we’re doing.
It’s what makes us writers such great
liars improvisers, I think. We’re just making everything up as we go along and hoping against all hopes that no one will notice we’re completely baffled by our own words. We have no clue how we’re writing a book. All we know is that it’s an adventure, that each step — each word — will bring us one step closer to our final destination.
And despite what every writing instructor would like you to believe, there really is no secret formula to writing the perfect book. There’s no blog post or YouTube video or college course that can possibly teach you how to write “perfectly”. Stories come from deep within us. They’re messy and they’re broken and it’s our job to stitch them together, bit by bit. And the only way to do that — the only way to get better at writing — is to tell our stories in the only way that we know how to today. Even if it’s not perfect. Even if it’s not even good.
Chances are you’ll have absolutely no idea as to what you’re doing when you begin. Chances are you’ll take one look at what you wrote at the end of the day and think it’s complete garbage. (HINT: it’s not) But if there is one thing I want you to understand about writing a book, it’s that there is no such thing as doing it right the first time.
I know how hard it is to struggle with the perfectionism monster. I know what it’s like to sit down at the computer every single day and wonder if this is really how this story is supposed to go. If that was really the line of dialogue that was supposed to go there. If I’m really telling this story the way it is supposed to be told.
I know what it’s like to wonder if you’re actually ready to tell this story. I know what it’s like to feel like you have no grasp on what you’re doing, or to have no clue what words are coming forth from your fingertips, but they sound okay, so “I guess I’ll just go with it.” I know what it’s like to struggle and to fight for every word and to feel like a complete impostor when it comes to being a “writer”. I know what it’s like to look at everyone else around you and feel like they know exactly what they’re doing. But I am here to tell you that they are just as confused and frightened as you are.
Writing a book is exciting and horrifying and completely thrilling all at once, and during NaNoWriMo, all of those senses are heightened. Today you may be excited. Today you may feel ready. But there may come a day when you’re scared. There may come a day when you feel burnt out. There may come a day when you look at your words and your progress and you wonder why on earth you thought you could do this. There may come a day when you want to give up, but you can’t.
Whatever you do, whatever happens, please promise me this — promise me you will never give up.
I’m not talking about NaNoWriMo. If something drastic happens this month that causes you to be unable to finish, don’t beat yourself up over it. NaNoWriMo happens every year, and there will always be a chance for you to try again. What I’m talking about is your story. Promise me that no matter what happens with your writing — whether you love it or hate it or think it needs an entire overhaul — promise me that you will never throw it away without giving it a fighting chance.
You chose to write this book for a reason. You chose it. You looked at all of the ideas in your head, and this is the one you picked. There has to be a reason for it. Maybe it’s the theme, or the characters, or the overall aesthetic that gives you goosebumps. Maybe it’s the fact that you’ve been wanting to tell this story for years, and you’re finally ready to take the plunge. Whatever your reason was, you had one, and now it is time for you to cling to that.
It might be easy today. The first day of NaNoWriMo is simultaneously the most exhilarating and nauseating. Perhaps the words are flowing like buttermilk, and you feel like all of the creativity in the world is pouring forth from your pen and lighting your pages on fire with passion and magic. If that’s you, relish in that feeling. Cling to it and hold it tight and don’t ever let it go, because that’s what writing is supposed to feel like. It’s supposed to be an adventure, and it’s supposed to be fun.
But maybe that’s not what you’re experiencing today. Maybe the perfectionism monster has already grabbed hold of you. Maybe it’s staying your hand as you stare at the blank page because you’re so scared of starting your novel wrong. Maybe your fear of not being “good enough” is holding you back, and you’re beginning to wonder why you even signed up for this thing called “writing” in the first place.
If the latter is you — if you’re struggling on Day One because you want your story to be perfect — my advice to you is to let go. You will never, ever, ever write the perfect story. There is literally no such thing. There are good stories and great stories and stories that impact our lives for the rest of our existence, but there has never been, and there will never be, a perfect book.
So let go of your fear of failure. Allow yourself to write words that don’t sound quite right. Allow yourself to bend the laws and “rules” of writing and just have fun with your story. Allow yourself to let go of perfection, because striving for something you can never achieve will only leave you wanting. Allow yourself to mess up, to make mistakes, to leave a plot hole or two as you figure out just where you want this story to go.
Writing a book is a mess. It’s slapping words together and blowing things up and spilling paint and smearing it all around until it resembles something so chaotic it’s almost beautiful. Revising and editing and cleaning up the mess will come later, but for right now — if only just for today — you have the chance to create literally anything. You have the chance to let go of all reality and put together a world that is entirely your own. You have the chance to completely ruin your entire outline, to rip apart your roadmap and spin this story of yours down a million different paths because perfection is no longer your goal. Your goal is to write a book. Your goal is to write words that make people feel something. Your goal is to write a book that will change a life, even if it’s only yours.
And at the end of the month, when you lay down your pen and the smoke clears and you look back at this giant, messy, completely impossible first draft that you have created, you will see that it isn’t perfect. You will see that it has flaws, that it needs tweaking, that it has plot holes and errors and characters that are flat as a pancake. You will see that this book is a complete and utter mess.
But it’s your mess. You’re the one that created it. No one else will have any claim to it whatsoever.
And, by golly, it will be beautiful.
TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!
So that pep talk was a little bit all over the place. Please do forgive me if it makes absolutely no sense. I’m still kind of low-key panicking about the fact that NaNoWriMo is in LESS THAN SEVEN MINUTES ASDFGHJKL!!!! (ah yes. thus is the beauty of starting a blog post six days in advance and then forgetting about it for the next five). However, I’m hoping that my random splattering of words was able to give you a bit of encouragement as you set off to write ALL OF THE WORDS this month. And if it didn’t, well. . .I guess I failed. *shrugs*
But anyway! Let’s get into the NaNoWriMo questions, shall we? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and if so, what are you writing? Have you already begun the terrible deed of writing a whopping 50k in 30 days, or are you procrastinating on writing the final 500 words for the day by reading this blog post? (go write your words, sir. this pep talk isn’t that great.) What are your top tips, tricks, and bits of advice for anyone who might be struggling with their stories? And most importantly….
HAVE YOU WRITTEN ALL OF YOUR WORDS TODAY???? Because that is seriously important, and I will not stand here and let you slack on your wordcount, sir. *whips out pitchfork*
Let us talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down below, shall we? And as always, until next time. . .
*flings cookies in the air and disappears*