Tomorrow I begin a month long novel writing frenzy. A friend of mine, knowing I needed a push to "just write," suggested I participate in National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org). In May I signed up with great gusto. As the months passed, and the story I was working on at that moment hit roadblocks and plot problems, I began feeling hesitant about what I was going to take on in November. Who was I kidding? Really? Writing a novel (a 50,000 word novel to be exact) in a month? Craziness!
Another friend suggested I join a NaNo prep to get ready for the month of writing. I joined with excitement! Yes! Something to get me focused! I all ready had a story idea for November. This would be perfect! Sadly, what I learned about myself is that too much prep - outlining, character sketches, backgrounds and settings - shut me down! I hit major writer's block just in the planning stages! Ack! Once again my thoughts went to, "What in the heck am I thinking?!"
Back to the friend who suggested NaNo in the first place. Not only did he encourage me to go for it, but he gave me a great tool. He instructed me to "run, not walk" to the nearest bookstore and get a copy of Chris Baty's (the founder of NaNoWriMo) NaNo prep book, No Plot? No Problem! A Low Stress, High Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. Well, folks, the nearest bookstore is Amazon.com, so I logged in, did a search and within a couple minutes I'd purchased a Kindle copy for my iPhone and was reading. Chris' book was exactly what I needed! Not only is the man hilarious, but he encourages the craziness of minimal prep. He acknowledges that some people are planners, and that's okay, but he also gives us non-planners a boost of confidence.
My biggest issue is shutting down my inner editor. I am a perfectionist in the realm of "if it can't be perfect, then don't even do it." Ugly, I know....and sadly this form of perfectionism has caused me to either give up or not even begin many things in life. I decided to make a conscious choice (thanks to Chris' pep talks in his book) to be imperfect. I was going to shut down that inner editor if it killed me! Fortunately it didn't kill me because Chris agrees to lock up our inner editor for the month of November. Thank you very much, Kind Sir!
So instead of writing outlines, character sketches and backgrounds, I turned to the story I had been working on for months. I hadn't touched the story in weeks. I had stopped writing because it "just didn't sound right." I returned to the story with the purpose of shutting down the inner editor and practicing getting my minimum word count in each day. To successfully complete a 50,000 word novel in a month, one must write an average of 1667 words each day. The first couple days I battled the editor throughout my writing time. He kept trying to pop his ugly head up to distract. I decided to handle him by consciously ignoring him. I figured if I ignored him long enough, he'd eventually get bored and leave me alone. Sure enough, away he went.
What freedom! To write without the constant nagging of Mr. Editor! The ideas flowed! The plot developed! The characters fleshed-out! For me, no planning, no editing, was like giving my creative brain license to to go on a shopping spree with no spending limit! I was easily reaching my goal of 1667 words a day. In fact, I was surpassing the goal on most days! Woo Hoo!
During this time, a new story idea came to me. I simply jotted down the gist of the idea and haven't touched it since. A few ideas pop up every once in a while, and I make a quick note, but I am saving the joy of development for tomorrow, November 1st - the beginning of my month long novelling journey.
In that spirit, I have a message for my creative brain....
Dear Creative Brain,
I hereby give you permission to activate! The time is now! All of those amazing ideas you've wanted to present to me, but I haven't allowed, are just waiting to be set free. I give you permission to take detours, explore sides of characters and plots that you've never been allowed to explore. This is YOUR time, Creative Brain! Mr. Party Pooper Editor has been banished from this party! It's just you and me, Baby! So get ready for the adventure of a lifetime and have a ball!
P.S. To all you readers and writers out there, if you'd like to know more about NaNoWriMo, visit www.nanowrimo.org. If you'd like to purchase or read a portion of Chris' book, No Plot? No Problem! visit http://www.amazon.com/No-Plot-Problem-Low-Stress-High-Velocity/dp/0811845052/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1288538755&sr=1-1 and "Look Inside."