NaNoWrimo: Fear and Loathing in Novel Writing

I’ve always been a cautious writer, careful with my words. This doesn’t always go well with an approach like NaNoWriMo. A third of the way into this year’s challenge, I’ve only written 5,262 words, only a tenth of the way toward my ultimate goal.

I could blame travel (I was out of town for three days) and church and community activities, but to be honest, it’s really it comes down to fear. I’m afraid that what’s in my head isn’t going to translate well onto the screen. I wonder if I’ve got what it takes to write a 50,000 word draft. I’m concerned that it’s going to be awful.

A helpful approach to each of these is acceptance. What’s in my head isn’t going to be what ends up on the page, not exactly. But maybe it will be better. Maybe it will create a whole different world with characters I haven’t thought of that will enhance the story.

Turning off my inner editor is going to be a key part of getting to that 50,000 word mark (or even close). That sounds like a simple thing to do, but any writer knows you are usually your own toughest editor. I wish I could offer some magic way of turning off your internal editor, but I’ve never been able to master it. My plan is to look at the project as a free writing exercise. I used to tell my students to keep writing or typing without stopping during these exercises, even if you have to write what seems like nonsense. Easier said than done, I know, and it takes practice.

The elephant in any writing room is the fear of writing badly. No one likes to write something they consider garbage. I’ll let you know how I do with this fear as the month progresses. I’m going to try to approach this like you approach a holding a garage sale. You know that the stuff you’re putting out isn’t the best stuff in your home. But you also know it has value, some value, any value. Someone out there is bound to want what you’ve got. And if your stuff ends up in the donation pile? At least you got value from it when you had it. Writing is the same. There’s always some value.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If not, what’s your biggest writing fear and how do you deal with it? Share below; you may have the answer everyone’s looking for!

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