Don’t Worry, Just Write

Today’s post is the first in a series of pep talks written by Nanowrimo veterans. I’m pleased to welcome Rose Johnson, known as SerpentRose on the Nanowrimo forums, 10 year Nano participant and, coincidentally, my mother, who originally introduced me to Nano. Please give her a warm welcome.

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Another year, another novel. This is my tenth time doing NaNo and I wish I could tell you I’ve won every time. Fortunately I’ve learned from both successes and failures, and one of the main things I’ve learned is that when I worry too much about what I’m writing it’s harder to actually sit down and write.

It’s far better, especially for NaNoWriMo, to have an idea that excites you than to have an idea other people think is “good”. NaNoWriMo isn’t for writing well, it’s for writing prolifically. I like to think of it as a “Spew Draft”, because I just spew the words on to the page.

There will be good bits in there, ideas that make you go wow, scenes that amaze you. There will be bad bits in there, wooden dialogue and plot holes big enough to fly a jumbo jet through. Now is not the time to worry about that.

You may have a wonderful outline and know exactly what you’re going to write each day this month, you may be a pantser and have little or no idea what your novel is actually going to be about. Or, as happened to me one year, you may have had an idea and are now discovering it’s not something you can write.

That’s not important, if you dislike what you have and another idea seems more appealing it’s still early enough in the month that changing plans is no big deal. What is important is that you are committed to sitting down to write.

You need to make writing a higher priority than that TV show or video game you love. They’ll still be around next month.

The one thing, the only thing, that everyone who has successfully completed NaNoWriMo has done is sit down and write. If you put butt in chair and write, even if what you write isn’t good enough to show anyone, even if it’s so bad you want to pretend you didn’t write it, it doesn’t matter.

So as soon as you’re done reading this open up that word processor and write. If you don’t know what to write just ask yourself “What could possibly go wrong” and then write out how your characters deal with the situation. That’s all there is to it, butt in chair, fingers on keyboard and one word after another.

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