July 1st was the start of the July Camp NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know what that it is, basically it is an insanity label which is stamped upon your back the moment you decide to do it. Excuse me. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Originally this is in November when you write a 50,000 word novel in one month. As I said, insanity. They throw the Camps in there during April and July so you can up your insanity levels. I mean so you can lower or raise your word count and have the opportunity to be in online ‘cabins’ so you aren’t alone and such. (I don’t do the cabin thing because in my opinion it is distracting and I couldn’t ever keep up)
Nevertheless, I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo. I don’t have a novel outline, just a story idea. Which, this is usually all I need in order to plug out a 50,000 word novel. I just returned from an amazing writer’s conference known as the Summer Workshop, fueled with ideas, and ready to write! (Actually I had five story ideas come to my head during sessions. I wrote them down)
There is just one problem…. I’m scared to write. Stupid, right? I just got back from a writer’s conference, for pity’s sake. I should be writing like crazy. Instead I’m analyzing absolutely everything I have written in my new novel, and should I mention this blog post? I’m filled with incredible information, insight, ideas, but I’m paralyzed by doubts, fears, and panic.
What if nobody likes this?
What if I’m a horrible writer and everyone is afraid to hand me the awful truth? Maybe I should give up writing altogether and spare myself the heartbreak when it comes. The heartbreak that I can’t write. I’m not qualified to write. Perhaps this sentence or that word shouldn’t be in here. Does this distract? Does that flow together?
And the thoughts keep plaguing me. I think there might be a name for this condition. It’s definitely not writer’s block. Maybe Writer’s Panic. Writer’s paralysis? Writer paranoia? I don’t know, but whatever it is, I’ve certainly got it.
I don’t know how many times I have gone over the prologue of my new novel. At least twenty. I keep pulling in a different sibling and asking their opinion on this. How does this sound? Do you get the gist? Do you feel the emotion? Should I give this information out, or is that too soon? If you found this on the shelf in the bookstore or the library would you continue reading? See? Paranoia. Panic.
I finally pinpointed my problem. While struggling to write the first chapter of my novel it struck me. I want it to come out perfectly. I expect this to be the best I’ve ever written. When I see the confused looks on my sibling’s faces I attack my work again and try to fix the problem. I have forgotten that I’m writing a first draft. The advice I give to people whose first drafts I have critiqued has somehow evaporated in my brain. Maybe it was all those Smarties I consumed...
I’m writing a first draft. It’s not going to be perfect. Anyone who expects a perfect first draft has obviously never written one. When writing a first draft you just write it. Unless you are a perfectionist, which I’ve never been accused of being that, then write with abandon. Let the story flow out of you. You can edit afterwards. Rewriting is an asset, but that’s meant for later. Not while you are writing the first draft. Otherwise you will be stuck writing the same chapter, or prologue in my case, over and over and never getting anywhere. That’s like doing donuts in the parking lot.
Take it from an experienced writer. (I’m hesitant to say that) Don’t be paralyzed with fear when you are writing. (I am preaching to the choir) Shut off the little, sometimes annoying, internal editor and write your story. Worry about the technical stuff later. As I said before, you can rewrite. The anecdote for writer’s panic, paranoia, or paralysis is to eradicate the fear that’s clutching your brain.
Break free and simply write.