Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

An update on the progress of my novel for National Novel Writing Month, where I aim to write 50,000 words in 30 days:

Wordcount = 0!

That’s right… aside from a power-driven first day of 1100 words, which I subsequently erased with writerly desperation in the next, there has been no progress whatsoever in my attempt at a second fast-paced novel. I am now 16, 679 words behind schedule.

Instead, I have been doing freelance naming work, and, and, and… procrastinating. For some reason, doing things like cleaning out the cabinet under my sink has seemed strickingly more important than writing prose every day.

It makes me wonder about the mechanism for motivation, and subsequently, avoidance. Last year I charged ahead with my writing, every day chomping at the bit for the moment when I could sit down and write: every free weekend, in the morning before work, at night after work… while at work.

Now, when I have more time than ever (I have roughly 16 potential free, largely unaccounted for, hours a day), I seem to be incapable of sitting down at the computer to just write. Write anything. And yet, I have time for email, my blog…


I’ve concluded that last year, with my first What-The-Hell-I’ll-Write-A-Novel-In-30-Days go of it, I had no expectations: I figured I’d get down 50,000 words of untalented fiction and I’d be fine with that. I couldn’t fail.

This year, I have expectations.

And that realization has allowed me to revisit a theme I’ve visited before: fear. Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of not meeting other’s expectations, fear of not meeting my own. Powerful stuff.

But why do we let our fear of something (writing a crap-ass novel…) prevent us from trying to overcome (…writing something…) that which we should fear (…writing nothing at all)?

Is that fear, or laziness?

I don’t know, but I do know that the key usually lies in exactly what we’re afraid of (known in other circles as “facing our fear”); I have to give myself permission to write a crappy novel. That will free me to write a good one.

I really liked a comment that a reader*[1] posted last year about fear: that “all creativity is driven fundamentally by our awareness of our own death.” In other words, I write because I know I’m going to die, so I better write NOW… because it’s awfully hard to produce a brilliant novel when I’m DEAD.

Truer words were never typed.

So I guess the only thing left to do now, is write. Fearfully, hesitatingly… even if horribly. I must charge ahead and “just do it” already.

…Even if it kills me.

*[1] Full disclosure: The person who said this is my boyfriend. However, he was not so at the time of this comment, and I liked it even then, so I’m still allowed to re-quote here without accusation of being biased.

§389 · November 10, 2007 · NaNoWriMo · · [Print]

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