For years, I have heard many of my writer friends discuss NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month–and though the idea of participating always seemed appealing, I never thought I would be one of those people signing up for it. Don’t get me wrong, I have always dreamed of writing a novel. But the idea of finishing a book in one month seemed daunting and challenging. I guess, you could say, fear kept me from entering because I didn’t want a public display of my failures.
In July, I began writing a book called A Thousand Lifetimes. The title, and the story, had been in my head for over five years. I was tired of reading everyone books by other people, and realized I wanted my own story out there. So I started writing. And the more excited I became over it, the more I wrote. Within a month, I had reached 50,000 words. Brilliant!
By the time the novel was complete, I’d written over 90,000 words. As I typed the words “Epilogue”, I began to cry. For five years I’d struggled with this story. For five years I’d teased the idea of writing it. And now it was complete. Or so I thought. I started rereading it, and realize how fast and vague I’d been. I realized all of the errors I’d made, or inconsistencies. I wanted to cry once more, but for new reasons. I felt I’d been on the ball in regards to the book, only to find out I really hadn’t. Most of what I had written had been, in fact, garbage. So I swore I would take a month off, and start again in October.
October rolls around, and I find I’m lacking in motivation. I stare at A Thousand Lifetimes and feel an overwhelming sense of dread. I battle with myself for hours thinking “What’s the point? I thought I was on my A-Game when I first wrote it, is it ever going to be anything beyond trash?” Then I remembered a few things.
1). We are our own worst critics. No matter how proud we are of ourselves and our accomplishments, we will be the first person to kick ourselves into the mud. Every little negative comment strikes deeper than the positive ones. I had at least 10 people reading my first draft, and the majority of the good feedback was phenomenal. Then one negative comment would slip in, and I felt like my world was crumbling.
2). Use the negativity to your advantage; let it inspire you to do better. I would mourn a bit for the fact that I’d received negative criticism, and then with a new found determination I would throw myself into the chapter and make it better. I wrote in ways I never thought I could, all because I wanted to prove everyone wrong. Negative comments aren’t always bad, and anything can be used to your advantage if you try.
3). No one is perfect, no even your favorite authors. When you have idols that have published tons and tons of books, are well known throughout the world, etc, you sometimes forget that they were once where you are. You sometimes forget that they are also human, and they make mistakes as well. It was so surreal when I was reading through an eBook written by one of my favorite authors, only to discover a few typos, as well as a few grammatical errors. Even your idols have issues.
Keeping all of that in mind, the topic of NaNoWriMo came up once more, but I still had hesitations. I still wasn’t quite motivated enough. I began digging through my mind, trying to uncover my Muse from what ever pile of crude she’d been buried under, and thought of all the positive things people had said as a way to try and inspire myself. This did very little, however, so I picked at the negative comments people had given. I felt that familiar flare, that jittery feeling in my chest I feel when I am suddenly overwhelmed with the need to write, to prove them all wrong. I immediately logged into the NaNoWriMo website, and signed up. So here I am, talking to you.
I honestly believe that, for many of us, positive comments just will not work. I think deep down we know our writing is good, even if we do not wish to admit it. We know our story, or idea, is good. We don’t need to be reminded (In reality we do, of course). Negative comments, on the other hand, provide a challenge. How dare you say what I’ve written isn’t good? I’ll prove you wrong. Then again, that may be just me.
Find what inspires you, dig down as deep as you can if you must, but find it and latch on to it. And do not let go until you’ve reached your goal.
I can’t guarantee that I will finish, but I am going to give it my best effort. Not everyone completes the challenge, and that’s okay. There’s always next year, after all. So for any of you out there looking for advice, here it is. Do your best, but if you don’t finish, don’t stress out about it. There is always time.
One of my favorite authors once said “You will destroy your dreams. The good news is, you can always repair them again.”–Laurell K. Hamilton.
I’ve also decided that the first few posts of this blog will be about NaNoWriMo, and my experience with it. It seemed appropriate to start off with the WHY I’m doing this. Good luck to all those participating in NaNoWriMo!!