For anyone not familiar with Nano, it's short for national novel writing month where budding writers attempt to churn out 50000 words in 30 days.
I am not new to Nano, I've done it three or four times now and I've always hit my target. That's a lie; I've always exceeded my target.
12 days in and I already know that this year I'm not going to make it. Why? Because life is busy. Because forcing myself to write the required 1700 words a day feels too much like work. Because I'm tired. Because I have a full time job. Because the weight of expectation sucks all the joy out of the process.
I actually knew this was going to happen a few days in. It felt harder than previous attempts. I wasn't engaged with my story and I wasn't enjoying myself. I started to panic. I was considering all kinds of crazy ways to up my word count. These included getting up to write at half five, cutting down mealtimes and hitting the library after work. But I didn't feel particularly inclined to do any of these things.
I felt terrible. I thought I was a bad writer, I thought I had failed. Because suddenly, somehow, all my writing goals had become wrapped up in this one experience and all my dreams were hinged on those 50000 words.
And then I realised that it's ok to stop. I will not be less of a success because I chose to do this another way. It doesn't matter how or when I write. It only matters that I write. That was a huge relief for me-understanding that it's not about succeeding all the time, that learning to fail is not the same as failing to learn. I write to understand myself. As long as I keep exploring, keep learning, keep going, it doesn't matter if I write 1700 words or 17.
Sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to get things wrong. I didn't understand that until I created this mess, almost destroyed my catastrophic first draft and trampled all over my love of words.
I guess this ties in to an earlier post where I wrote about giving ourselves permission to fail. It's a lesson worth repeating so, if you're reading this and you can relate, give yourself a break. Let yourself 'quit' for an hour, for a night, for a week. You'll be stronger for it in the long run.
Until next time...