Five days into NaNoWriMo, I have passed the 10,000 word count milestone. Getting to that milestone was hard, and to “win,” I have to write 40,000 more words. Winning NaNoWriMo means crossing the finish line on November 30 with 50,000 words written and verified.
Verifying word count is the easy part of writing a novel-length manuscript. I just have to do a select all > copy and then paste the content of my manuscript into a window on the NaNoWriMo website and it’s done.
Writing is the hard part. It’s hard because the world the story takes place in, the characters, their relationships, motivations, and so on are all new to me. I’m like the new girl in town who has to learn what everything is before I can make sense of what I see characters in the story doing. I do a lot of describing, which isn’t what readers want to read. I hate reading books in which the author has gone on and on, explaining in way too much detail what it is I’m supposed to see or know about. Skip the details and get to the story!
Leaving the words I’ve written on the page is very hard to do. I worked as an editor at a book publishing company for thirteen years. I want to “fix” my writing to make it better. But if I do that, if I stop moving forward, I won’t finish. And finishing is my goal.
This sets up an internal struggle about the “value” of this effort, which I must deal with every day. I hear the voice in my head that says stuff like: “If you can’t do it right, you’re wasting your time,” or “You will have to do this all over again, maybe several times, because it’s awful the way it is.” And when I hear that voice, I do question whether or not the effort IS worthwhile. Of course, I also need to think about what I’m not doing when I’m writing a manuscript that may never be more than it is now.
The other side of the struggle is me countering Negative Nellie with thoughts about why the effort has value in and of itself. Some of the benefits I remind myself of are:
- I’ll know I can write a novel-length manuscript.
- I’ll improve my writing and story-telling skills.
- I’ll gain more understanding of the creative and writing processes.
If I also find out the story is good (which I can’t know if I don’t write it), well, that will be an awesome bonus!
This struggle is universal. It’s safe to say that every person who decides to give form to an idea has an inner voice like Negative Nellie who tries to derail their project.
The ability to get past this inner struggle depends on one thing, which is: Deciding to matter. If I don’t believe that my work matters, I won’t have the inner motivation to continue. It comes down to that simple fact.
Deciding to matter is what every person who wants to create must do.
I can choose whether I matter.