Thank you Kristen for pushing me to trademark this phrase. I will now be accepting nickels for every usage. (Thank you very much in advance.)
With the kick-off of NaNoWriMo on Sunday (for those of you who live in a cave—kidding, sort of—NaNoWriMo is where writers challenge themselves to write a first draft novel (i.e. 50K) in the month of November. That averages to 1666 words a day/every day), there seems to be an onslaught of blog posts from authors—both published and unpublished—offering their advice on writing a first draft. The number one topic appears to be the idea that you should embrace your SUCK level now. For you to realize that no matter what you do, your first draft is going to be utter crap. In the end, you should not fight this. You should instead accept it now and move forward without high expectations bogging you down. You will not write the next great <insert genre of choice> novel. You will not have a sparkly gem ready to be queried come December 1st. You, in short, are going to SUCK. In fact you will be the Suckiest Suck That Ever Sucked™.
Are you thoroughly depressed yet? Yeah, me too.
I must say, I can see where these authors are going. Their premise is that if you let go of high expectations, you'll be free to write without pressure. You'll be free to soar—to fly. To…erm, you get the point, right?
What do I have to say to this? MALARKY.
I simply can't imagine going into a project that way. Nope. Not gonna have it.
When I begin a story, it is LOVE….twuuuuu wuv. There isn't anything or anyone that can convince me that it isn't the story I should be telling at that particular moment in time. There isn't anything or anyone that can make me budge in the belief that I am the ONLY person who can write the story the way it needs to be written. It's not ego, it's just an all-consuming, passionate love for what I'm doing. For me, that is what allows me to fly—to throw all caution to the wind and just write.
Quite honestly, if I let self-doubt in before I even got started, I would be waaaay too freaked out to begin. It's not freeing for me, it's a hindrance. It's something that has and will leave me thinking I'm the worst writer on the face of this earth. There will be plenty of times when the negative voices will start picking away at my brain—I DO NOT want to listen to them when I'm in my honeymoon phase with a book. And like heck I'll invite them in.
So yeah, I hereby resolve that my first drafts shall NEVER suck.
I hope all of you will do the same!
And to pick up on the common thread this week, I will now offer up some advice, Jen-style, on how to write a first draft. (To be fair, I've never participated in NaNoWriMo, but I HAVE written two books in very short periods. In total, FI took a little over two months, and if I added up the time spent on BTPM, it would be less than a month. ):
- Write the book you want to write. If it's emulating an author/book you love, go for it. If it's testing out some new concept/technique that you've never seen used before, go for it. There are no rules. Write the book you want to write—the one that makes your heart race, the one that gets you so excited that you can barely sit still to type out the dang thing. Do NOT worry what others will think.
- Forget about all the "how-to's." Chuck every last one of your writing books out the window. Seriously. There is no one correct way to write and there is no one set of rules that you HAVE TO follow. Do it your way. Make up your own techniques. If you're a linear writer, go with it. If you can't begin without an outline, write one. But DO NOT allow yourself to become bogged down by what you think you're supposed to do and/or your inability to fit into the "writer mold."
- Keep Going. Finish. There will be times when writing will be the last thing you want to do, but you have to push through. Writing is hard work. Do not expect to come in and have thousands of words flowing from your fingertips every day. Sometimes you'll have a bad day. Don't worry about it. Shake it off, pick yourself up, and begin again. As Scarlett would say, "Tomorrow is another day."
- Do not open the door to negative voices. They're SO shady and capable of crawling through the smallest crack in a foundation. They'll get in eventually, so do not invite them in. You ROCK—you're writing and you wouldn't be doing it if you didn't love it. Don't let anything or anyone steal your moment.
- HAVE FUN!!! You're writing. Is there anything else better in the whole wide world? I think NOT.
Okay, so there are my tips. Certainly not all-inclusive, but a start at least. Anyone have anything they want to add? J