Hello fellow ink slingers, word spankers, and prose peddlers, it’s less than 12 hours away from the start of the 2014 NaNoWriMo season. And if you’re like most people – even seasoned writers – you’re probably a bit nervous, apprehensive, and even feeling like this is pointless.
Trust me when I say that there are many reasons you should not write during November. Everyone can make excuses why NOT to do something, especially something difficult and challenging.
Some people say “Well, I don’t think I have the time.”
The problem being you have to make time for things you want to accomplish. Instead of watching specific shows on the DVR, wait a few weeks and use the previous TV time to write. Instead of going out for lunch, bring a sack lunch and write. The easiest thing to do is look at those specific times during the day where you have 20 or 30 minutes uninterrupted and set that time aside. If you don’t have that much time, ask those around you for a break. Every word counts, and every day adds up. Keep going.
Another excuse I hear is “My idea isn’t that good.”
So it’s finished? You’ve already written the first draft? Great! Let’s read it! Oh – you haven’t yet. All you have is a thought. Here’s a little piece of advice someone told me while I was questioning making a song or not: “It doesn’t matter if people like it not once it’s finished, but right now you’re telling people they don’t like it before they’ve had a chance to even judge. That’s giving too many people way too much control over your creativity.” Even if the idea is the absolute worst possible thing in the entire world, there is a market for it. Write it. Create it. Make the world’s BEST worst idea you can. Own it like you’ve polished that smelly turd for years.
One that plagues me: “But you’re not a writer!”
Look at the definition of a writer. Google the word and use your favorite definition. The most common definition is “a person who has written a particular text.” If you take this definition at the literal meaning, the moment you finish the first draft, you are now a writer. Until then, you might be the second definition: “a person who writes stories, books, or articles, as a job or regular occupation.” Which to me means if you have ever received compensation for writing something, you are a writer. Personally, I prefer the Old English definition: “A person who is able to portray their thoughts and feelings into prose well.”
The problem with this entire conversation about “you’re not a writer!” is it’s nothing more than an argument. One side already has their mind made up, and the other side questions or believes the first side for some strange reason. Sometimes, those we care about the most can say things that hurt – and they don’t even know. My suggestion: Prove them wrong by not only ignoring their statement, but writing your heart out, and live your dream as whatever definition you choose.
This last point is one that actually pisses me off when I hear people talk about it, so if I get heated, forgive me:
“I’m waiting for my inspiration.”
You don’t wait for inspiration. You create it. YOU are the creative inspiration in others. YOU are the one building the worlds and characters walking through the dreams of those reading your text. YOU are the one where people say “Oh, I love this writer! I can’t wait for the new book to come out!” In all that stuff before this, where did I once say “inspiration” or “muse” or “magical imaginary friend who inspires you at random times of day to throw up participial phrases?”
Right. Inspiration doesn’t appear. You attack it. Inspiration isn’t the type of thing you wait to come around and then start your artistic project – you start creating and perfect the project later. In the immortal words of Mitch Hedberg: “I’m tired of following my dreams, I’m just going to ask where they’re heading and catch up with them later.” That’s the attitude to take with inspiration. Make your own inspiration by working on your project, not by waiting.
The thing is, everyone deals with these problems. You’re not the only one and will never be alone. Writing is a very solitary task as it is, but we don’t have to take every aspect of it and internalize it. Join Facebook or Google+ writing groups, follow your favorite writers on Twitter, and interact with those who you enjoy. You’ll quickly see that not only do you share many of the same traits as the people you idolize – but many others do as well. Those are the ones you’ll find are like-minded enough to belong to your tribe.
And with writing, friends mean the world.