We’ve probably all heard the adage, “Give yourself permission to write crap,” but I want to talk about it because it’s such an important one. We must face the inevitability that not every word we type will be fabulous, and that’s okay. We are allowed to be imperfect. Welcome it, embrace it. It’s your right as a human.
Pretty much the second my post about waiting for agent responses hit your screens last month, rejections hit my inbox. You know that saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs?” For me, it was raining No’s and Also No’s.
I took it hard – harder than I should have for someone who’s been through this before with another novel. The reason is something I’m going to confess to you even though it casts me in an unflattering light, because… I don’t know, there’s just something about you, random internet stranger, that makes me feel like I can open up to you.
In only 1 more day, thousands of writers across the globe will be mopping their brows, nursing their keyboard-burnt fingers, and collapsing into piles of first draft pages. That’s right – NaNoWriMo is almost complete. Three cheers to all those who faced the challenge!
For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to write as close to 50,000 words as you can between November 1st and 30th.
I personally don’t participate, but I get asked a lot if I do, so I thought I’d write a post explaining why. This isn’t to knock the NaNo’ers, just to provide my own perspective.
Two years ago I read an amazing book called “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron, full of warm-hearted wisdom about the creative process, self-doubt, self-criticism, and motivation. I’ve recommended this book to a number of writers since then, and decided today I would share the notes I took while reading, in hopes that you find them as encouraging as I did.
(These are part quotes, part summaries, typed here exactly as I penned them in my notebook. I’ve made bold the ones that most resonated with me.)
Today’s post comes to you from French Polynesia! Well, sorta – I wrote it while we were there, but I’m publishing after we’ve returned. Does that count? When I wrote this, I was surfing on the back of a wild dolphin, and the dolphin was wearing sunglasses, and was
probably TOTALLY my new best friend. Yes, that sounds factual. *nods*
Craig and I are relentless wanderers, ever thirsty for the faraway. So we decided to celebrate our five-year anniversary on the Polynesian island of Mo’orea. Travel not only nourishes my soul, it betters me as a writer by providing my mind a rest as well as material.
That’s the sound of one writer editing furiously.
You may recall this kaPOWerful post from early July, declaring my mission to finish my bulky edits by the time we leave for French Polynesia. By “bulky” I meant the rewrites, the new scenes, the untangling of plot-snarls, chunky stuff like that. Scary stuff like that… Before setting my goal, I had my list of must-edits locked in a cupboard while I cowered under a table.
What was I so scared of? I thought the scope of my revisions would be too daunting to summit, that I’d realize the book was one giant mess that I could never fix. But I reminded myself that big tasks are completed one small step at a time. I also realized that by stewing in my anxiety, I was making my anxiety last longer, so if I wanted to remove that anxiety I’d have to start editing.
I’m happy to say it’s been much less painful that expected!! I’m still in the midst of it, but here was my process:
It’s one of those days again. You’ve sat down at your desk, all set to work, but… Groan. Your muse has called in sick. Last time it was a dead car battery, and before that, the dog ate its homework. Whatever the reason, your muse is gone and you’re left high and dry.
Yup, it’s that infamous writer’s block. Here is a list of handy solutions for the next time it happens to you.
To celebrate our 5-year anniversary in a few months, my boyfriend Craig and I are traveling to French Polynesia. Yesterday was a very badass-feeling day of scheduling. Flights booked – kapow! Hotel booked – kapow!
And amidst all that, somehow I ended up with a deadline for completing my book’s revisions. Extra-kapow!
I finished writing my second novel.
Three years, you guys.
Three years of blood, sweat, and tears. (And ink stains?) Three years of banging my head against the keyboard. Three years of sobbing into my hands when things felt too daunting to go on.
And three years of LOVING this story, despite it all. Because that’s the only way I could have pushed through: how deeply I cared about this book underneath all the struggle.
Look at that shiny, glorious number! Can’t you just see the heavenly light rays bursting between its digits? And nope, there’s nothing wrong with your Spotify – that IS a chorus of angels singing “Hallelujah” through this picture. (I hired them to do that and they’d like a tip, so…)