Old Made New

I’m a NaNoWriMo writer. Once a year I take a month away from the usual routine and just write everything I can pour out of my head, until a novel, nonsensical as it might be, is done.

During the other 11 months, though, I struggle to get even a fraction of that kind of output. It’s not the lack of events or competition, and I can’t fully blame the fact that my progress isn’t as public–because sometimes it actually is. No, the thing that’s different the rest of the time is that I’m not going by NaNoWriMo Rule #1.

All you fellow WriMos know it. It’s that inner editor.

There are a million pieces of advice on how to throw it out. In November, I don’t even need them. When I’m having trouble, I just tell myself, “This is a NaNo novel! I can mess it up as much as I want!” But that excuse doesn’t quite apply when I sit down to write a first draft that I know is going to have to be edited up to something readable in just a month or two, and that will actually go to beta readers.

So maybe what I’m afraid of isn’t so much the inner editor as the outer editors. The thing that makes me afraid to just plunge on through a scene is, “Hey, someone’s actually going to read this!” What can we do about that?

There’s always the option of editing it more fully yourself before you show it to anyone else. If, for some reason, you just can’t make yourself do that in the time you have, ask yourself: how much can I trust this reader? Is it someone who will understand that I’m not done and that anything less than a final draft is going to have problems? If yes, when you’re hesitating over word choice remind yourself that your reader probably isn’t looking for that yet. If no, maybe you need to find someone else, at least for this stage.

This isn’t the only source of writer’s block in the world, of course. It’s just what I struggle with every day, and it’s probably common among people who do great in November and then can’t write another word again. They all come from the things we’re afraid of. What’s your writing fear?

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One thought on “Old Made New

  1. I guess this is one case where years of writing fan-fiction where I didn’t give a single care how it read was helpful, because now I’m conditioned in my first draft to do it that way. Then, of course, I go through like four revisions on my own.
    That fear of it not being good enough never goes away anyway.

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