It’s time for another “first Wednesday” posting of the Insecure Writers Support Group. On this first Wednesday of each month, we share our insecurities and hopes with each other “without appearing foolish or weak.” Please join us!
I thank Alex J. Cavenaugh for creating this group, and invite you to visit his website as well as those of our illustrious co-hosts: TB Markinson,Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar!
Recently someone asked on Facebook: NaNoWriMo, yay or nay? It invited a lively discussion. Since NaNo is just a few weeks away, I thought I would weigh in…especially since we’re talking about insecurities today, and NaNo seems to bring those up in a big way.
NaNoWriMo, for those who don’t know, is National Novel Writing Month. Held every November, it’s a writer’s version of the Boston Marathon, where we hunker down and produce a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
I love using NaNoWriMo for first drafts, because it forces me to kick my inner censor out of the way. I also like the idea of joining with other writers who are doing the same thing. We root for each other, and give each other encouraging words when one is struggling (much like IWSG).
Critics of NaNo say new writers can be intimidated or overwhelmed, and yes, I’ve seen that happen. To that I say: NaNo will bring up your “stuff.” It will ferret out all your doubts and insecurities. If you understand what’s happening, it’s possible to move through those doubts and become more productive with your writing.
Others criticize NaNo for perceived rules. There’s only one: try to write a novel in 30 days. If you’re working on nonfiction and want to ride on the energetic coattails of NaNo energy, go for it! If you want to do a rewrite of an existing work but want the support, do that, too! There are “rebel” groups within NaNo you might want to find.
A few days ago someone was stressing because she didn’t have a book cover to post on the NaNo website. I’ve never done this! If you have a cover, great. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.
And if you don’t write 50,000 words? So what! This is your NaNo. Do what you can. Life happens. Sometimes the draft just doesn’t work. It’s fine. Some people don’t “win,” but they ended up writing more in a month than they ever did before. That’s great — and it’s enough!
If you’re a planner, yes, you can write character sketches and plot outlines. In fact, many people do a lot of preplanning.
If you’re a pantser, like I am, that’s fine, too.
Your draft will probably suck, but first drafts always do. You can fix the draft in future revisions. I’ve spent a few years fiddling with my last one. I don’t think my first draft was worse because I wrote it quickly — I think it got written because I wrote it quickly, before I could talk myself out of it.
And if you don’t want to do NaNo, that’s cool, too. You don’t have to diss it because you’re not interested, or your second cousin’s neighbor’s uncle did it and had a bad experience. Just say no, thanks, and move on. No need to knock those of us who choose to do it.
I don’t know if I’ll “win” this one by writing 50,000 words. I will show up every day at the page and do my best. I’ll engage with others on the site and soak up the support. I may even hook up with some in-person write-ins.
Showing up. Doing our best. Writing daily. Detaching from the outcome. Those principles, to me, are the real “win.”