NaNoWriMo approaches, and as usual I am totally unprepared. Unlike my ordinary, everyday state of unpreparedness, my NaNoWriMo unpreparedness is on purpose.
With my writing, I am quasi-perfectionist. I can’t call myself a perfectionist in good conscience because my writing is never perfect. Oh, but I try. I will dilly with word choice, and dally with rhetoric. I’ll shilly with rhythm and shally with “fresh” descriptions. Above all, I poke and pick.
A sentence can’t stay unless I’ve fiddled with every component for hours, maybe weeks. Just to be sure. And while a sentence can only go right in a few ways, the ways that string of words can unspool is legion.
Not an advisable way to treat one’s creativity in any circumstance, but especially not a way to traverse NaNoWrimo.
As way to progress through NaNo, and perhaps gain some tactics outside of NaNo for being okay with shitty first drafts (progress, not perfection!), I’ve taken to doing next to zero planning for NaNo. I don’t have a story idea that I’m attached to, that I want to do right by. So I don’t feel the same need to make it really, really good.
And so, I can write. Fast, without fear and failure. I start with a couple of names, a premise, and my usual themes (which can be summarized as: saving the world through handicrafts, doing right sucks sometimes but you still gotta, and I don’t care about the best swordsperson in the world, I care about the struggles and fears of the 17th best.)
I get to 50k because I don’t care that it sucks. It’s “not a story that would be good anyway.” It’s just a break from my “real” work. Except, by Nov 30 I usually end up with a draft I love. Sure, it’s the love of a mother for an ugly, awkward kid, but what better love is there in this world.
Maybe it’s just the monkey at a typewriter theory. Give me a month of typing, and I’m bound to produce a couple of sentences that I want to build a better book around. Maybe it’s just relief that I out-typed my writing fears and produced a draft in the time it usually takes me to write 10k.
More than ending up with a first draft, more than getting a month of intense writers’ community feels, 30 days of semi-freedom for my creativity is the true value of NaNoWriMo for me. I’m glad I’ve found this path, this way through.