NaNoWriMo: That Pesky, Persistent Editor

Current word count: 12,031

Current word count: 12,031

Last year at this time, I think I was a terrifying 3 days behind on NaNoWriMo. I distinctly remember one weekend spending every free moment frantically writing -- that's when the "word vomit" happens, the divergence from plot or the random additions of subplots that don't make sense. I think I went a whole week without working on NaNoWrimo. But I valiantly struck back and kept with it and wrote potentially the worst novel on the face of the planet as a result. 

This year, it's like everything has flip-flopped: I'm at 12,031 words, which is about two days ahead of schedule. Two days. I could not write for two days and not fall behind, not feel like I'm trying to scrabble up on a mountain made of virtual text. 

In the past five days, I've written the beginning of a novel that, ok, might not win any awards, but it's something I might read (if it was $0.99 on my Kindle). What's the difference here? 

Last year, I was in a very different state emotionally. I was incredibly critical about myself and I believe I let my inner editor get the best of me. The best, and weirdest, part of NaNoWriMo is that you really just have to hide your inner editor away for an entire month. I mean, 30 days without listening to the voice in your head that says, "This sentence is bad" or "you should think of a better metaphor." Maybe it's good advice, Inner Editor, but I have 50,000 words to write and I don't have time. Shutting that little voice up is the only way to survive and make it through.

Last year, I wrote and struggled the entire time, because that inner editor wasn't just talking about my horrible novel (and it was bad, guys, have I mentioned?) -- it was talking about me. "That's a horrible sentence" turned into "you're a horrible writer." Who wants to listen to that everyday? Eventually, I stuffed it down, but it was always there, poisoning my writing, poisoning my thoughts and behavior. 

This year, I'm mentally and emotionally in a better place. Suffice to say, I don't hate my life and while my inner editor still assaults me with useless feedback ("you're legs look like stuffed sausages in those boots!"), I'm more able to ignore it and move on with my life.

Writing is easier too. I worried that my day job as a writer would make writing difficult -- writing 6-8 hours a day and then writing more sounds pretty exhausting. But I've found the opposite. After 6-8 hours of writing blogs and copy and more, I actually find I'm energized to work on NaNoWriMo just because it's different. Now that I'm not miserable all the time, having energy to write additionally in the evening is just kind of how it is.

As I continue on NaNoWriMo, I'm sure I'll have more observations on what makes it easier or more difficult. Fighting down the urge to edit, to change, to start over and be "perfect" is a big step towards actually completing NaNoWriMo -- and ultimately, a step towards completing a novel that ends up being at least decent.