Have you had one of those moments where you were trying and trying and trying to do something and it just isn’t working and you are so frustrated you are cursing in ways that could make a sailor blush? You’ve got what ever it is you are working on and you are wound up and ready for the throw that would make Tom Brady jealous?
That was me with my first draft. Since NaNoWriMo 2014, I have been increasingly frustrated with my writing. Or lack there of.
When I was first introduced to the idea of writing sprints (in October 2014) I wrote over 900 words. First time. My second I wrote over 600. As a result I came to expect close to 1000 every time I sat down at the computer for thirty minutes. Which was unrealistic.
My husband constantly told me to relax, calm down and create a realistic goal. Which naturally pissed me off. I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted to sit down and write 1000 words in thirty minutes. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I hadn’t written or thought about writing in close to a year. (It was a rough year. TurboTax told me so. Seriously I put in my info in and it said “Wow! Sounds like you had a rough year!”)
So I did what I always do when writing doesn’t come easy. I procrastinated. I started reading blogs about writing process under the guise of looking for helpful information. I watched youtube videos about writing and I avoided reading my best friend’s final draft.
Why? Because she was successful where I couldn’t seem to pull it together. She has always been one step ahead of me in the writing department. And by one, I mean about five. So really this wasn’t anything but I was avoiding it because i somehow felt if I could get my first draft finished from start to end or end to start (I don’t care much how I do it at this point) then she wouldn’t be completely leaving my in the dust. I would have something.
All the writing I was avoiding was building up. And all the writing advice I was getting was pretty much the same. There were a few things that really stuck out. The first was when I read a NaNoWriMo pep talk by Veronica Roth (click here to read it for yourself). She basically said to let it go. Let go of everything but the writing. While I read it I thought it was a good idea but it was still just a suggestion in the back of my mind.
Meanwhile, I was writing two to four hundred words a day that I felt were just, well, crap. And with each shitty word, I felt more and more like throwing my computer out the window and letting the whole thing go.
Then I saw a little inspirational picture on Twitter that said. “First drafts don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be written.” So I filed that away under the next time frustration builds up, and moved on. Still writing small amounts of crappy words, now with occasional bit of what I consider workable material. Small win!
Then I saw a youtube video by M. Kirin. (Click here to view the video) Where he said, NaNoWriMo is about creating the habit. That resonated with me. Then he says, “You define your own success.” Pretty sure he worded it slightly differently but you get the idea and I encourage you to watch it for yourself if you are struggling with the process or writers block. Or if you are just looking for an entertaining way to procrastinate that leaves you feeling inspired, M. Kirin is your man.
The last bit of my epiphany was this morning after writing 566 words. Most of which were more than tolerable, if I do say so myself. Anyway, I read a tweet that said writing is a marathon on #amwriting. It was like being hit by a truck. I actually said “Holy s***” How did I not see this before? With all the sprinting and NaNoWriMo challenges and my own goals, something got lost. A novel is not a sprint, sure you can sprint parts of it but you can’t sprint from beginning to end. At least not in the beginning. When you haven’t even finished one first draft from beginning to end. (Which I haven’t. I get caught up in making it perfect which a first draft is never going to be or it will never get done. I recently learned) My favorite Romance Author, wrote my favorite book in two weeks. But she’s this kind of super human writing machine that has been writing her entire life and has it all figured out.
So for those of us still trying to figure it out, how do you run a marathon? You start out slow. You train for months prior. You build up your muscles and you create good habits!
So what I realized is: If you take your time and build the habits someday you will have a first draft. lol No. I mean I hope that someday you will have first draft but if you keep at it if you create the habit every time you start the marathon, you will have the tools to finish. Maybe not as fast as you would like but you will finish. More importantly, if you don’t cross the finish line its O.K.! Get up and try again. 50k in thirty days is a lot. But it’s not unattainable. Even if you don’t get to the coveted 50k the first year or the second year, you never know. Next November could be your year. Build the habits, live the dream. And pace yourself, after all it’s a marathon.
And all the above, is just the first draft. I hear once the first draft is complete, that’s when the real work begins.