I’ve written more than ten thousand words in two days. This is silly. This is a silly thing to do.
I’m going to keep doing it tomorrow. And the next day. And so on until the start of December.
Yes, I’m one of those people doing National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been doing it since 2004 with two years off for Life Reasons, and I’ll probably keep doing it as long as I keep writing. I don’t often think about “why?” though.
I write at other times of the year. I hope I write well at other times of the year. I certainly don’t write this fast at other times of the year. So why spend November cranking something out that in my heart I know isn’t my best work?
Because, I tell myself, it’s not my best work yet.
First drafts are hard. All writing is hard ultimately, but first drafts are the worst. You start with nothing, and you try to make something. That’s a ridiculously gutsy thing to do. There was an empty word document and you filled it with story and the story came out of your head. Bloody hell. Later drafts can be tough, but you at least have something to work on. However flawed or inadequate your first draft is, it takes you from the beginning of your story to the end. You can make the path pretty later.
First drafts are hard enough that often people don’t get that far. They start, they feel like what they’ve written isn’t good enough, they give up.
National Novel Writing Month removes from me the permission to give up.
AN example of this: I’m three parts into a five part science fiction mystery story. I know what happens in it, I have most of the moving parts sorted out, I just need to clear my head and write it. But I don’t. I write other, simpler things instead. Because it’s hard Because it takes more than I think I have to grind the story out. If I wrote ten thousand good words on that, it would be done.
But instead, in the past two days, I’ve written ten thousand mediocre words on something else. Because it’s NaNoWriMo and I’m getting the bones of a story out. And from those bones I make a body.
Writing is rewriting. That’s the name of this blog. But you have to write first. And that’s what November is for. The mystery where I have to write well will still be there, one novel from now.