We’re over half way through November now, which means that we’re halfway through NaNoWriMo. This is a message to everyone taking part, whether you’ve written 1,000 words or 40,000; you have written something and you don’t understand how important that is.
“The worst enemy in creativity is self doubt.” (Sylvia Plath)
We’re halfway there now. Maybe your self doubt is starting to kick in, but don’t let it. The more you doubt yourself, the more your writing will suffer for it. Even if you don’t feel confident about your writing now, keep on writing. Believe in yourself. Most people who have a story inside them never write it down, the simple fact that you’re writing means everything.
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” (Octavia E. Butler)
This is what NaNoWriMo is about. Habit. Writing whether you’re inspired or not. If you rely on the ‘muse’, you could be waiting around for months until it strikes you. Trust me, I’ve been there. Writing every day however, is a completely new experience. You’re not waiting for your muse to turn up, you’re making her, or as Barbara Kingsolver says “chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.”
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” (Sir Terry Pratchett)
This is the most important piece of advice you can be told during NaNo. Actually forget during NaNo, it’s something to remember always. Do not worry about your first draft. Don’t worry about what you create during NaNo. It’s not about creating some glorious work of art, it’s about creating something. Ask yourself this, if your first draft is terrible, what does it matter? No one but you will see your first draft. It may be missing chunks and chapters, littered with cliches, but now you know the whole story. You know what needs to change and you can make that happen.
“You will learn more from glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.” (Neil Gaiman)
It is okay to make mistakes, after all that’s how you learn. Write in the love interest, make your villain, design your hero – and then maybe while you’re writing you’ll realise that you included the wrong villain. The ending doesn’t pack the punch you expected. You have to go back and change everything. That’s okay. That’s what the second draft is for. Now you know where you went wrong. We all make mistakes and it’s okay to fail, as J.K Rowling says “it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” But by the sheer fact you’re writing, then you’re already succeeding.
“You see the author operating at a high level and you wonder: why am I not doing that? The reality is: You’re only seeing the island, not the heap of volcanic material that pushed it out of the sea.” (Chuck Wendig)
“You must keep going. Just a little more. You are stubborn. You are exhausted. You are determined. You are a Writer.” (Marie Lu)
Every word you have written so far is a success. Every word you will write in the next 14 days is a success. Even if you haven’t ‘won’ NaNo, even if you think you have no hope of reaching that finish line, you’re still winning. You’re writing. You’re beating everyone whose ever said you weren’t a writer, you’re fighting that monster known as self-doubt and you are creating something magical, because writing in itself is a breed of magic. You are almost there. Just keep writing.