It’s officially been one week since I started the NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ve always been very snobby about the idea of writing 50,000 words in a month. Would such an exercise be worth my time? I even began to waffle in the days before November 1st, sure I was about to commit myself to tossing one month of writing time down the drain. Not to mention, reading Maggie Stiefvater’s open letter to NaNo, which reinforced all of my fears. I considered not even starting.
But I did start.
Prepared with with half the novel outlined, and scene cards in hand, I stared down the blank page. It was a rocky start, I’ll admit. My editor brain went into hyperdrive, roaring her evil head like Godzilla trashing a city. She kept screaming: “Slow down! This sucks! You’re going to have to rewrite every single word of this.” And she isn’t wrong. I haven’t wrote anything this poorly in a long time.
There was a point (maybe around day 3), where that repetitive growl of my editor brain started to dull. I gave in to the fact that this was bad writing. I decided to accept that I was spewing out large chunks of exposition, ignoring plot holes, allowing pause button violations, and not deeply exploring all of my character’s emotions. Anything goes! And as I started to free myself of the need to analyze every decision – something magical happened.
I started to enjoy writing.
Not just enjoy it, but love it, like a giddy child on a playground. Suddenly, I was allowed to be self-indulgent. Allowed to no worry if every decision was the best one. Allowed to make things up, explore, and have fun!
I didn’t realize how much of my past writing process has been about editing and nit-picking as I go. I’m not saying these aren’t important tools. I’ll need them in revision. But I had forgotten how much FUN writing a first draft can be.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m writing crap. I have no delusions about this. There’s no fancy MFA crafting going into this draft. But there is excitement. There is joy. And that is something I didn’t expect.
So, here I am at the end of week one. My current tally is:
- Word count: 16,031
- Pages: 53
- Average words per day: 2,003
If you’re attempting NaNo this month too, I give you permission to be self indulgent! Remember what it’s like to be a kid and just play. Embrace the fun!