NaNoWriMo — Scared and still jumping in — one day at a time

Every day, so far, I’ve approached my NaNoWriMo novel project with roughly the same level of fear and doubt as I felt the first day.

It doesn’t seem to be going away. I know it’s only the fourth of the month, but I thought maybe a few days into it, I wouldn’t be wringing my hands so much before I close my eyes and jump in with both feet.

Mind you, it doesn’t hurt to have a cold beer or a  small flask of Jagermeister within reach before taking said jump. It wouldn’t be enough if I didn’t care about this novel, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

I didn’t get much writing done on Sunday — the first day of NaNoWriMo — because it was a Sunday, and I’d already decided I didn’t want to hold myself to a word count quote on Sundays, though I do on other days.

I figured, even if I don’t write anything on Sundays,  if I write at least 2,000 words on other days of the month, I’ll write at least 52,000 words by the end of the month. So far, after jumping in each day since then, I’ve written well over 2,000 words on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

I’m not saying I have it in the bag. I’m definitely not saying everyone should totally do what I’m doing, because I’m so brilliant I scare myself.

I do scare myself a little, but for different reasons.

All I’m saying is that I’m new to this NaNoWriMo thing, which requires me to sit my butt down every day (except Sundays, though I’m not forbidden from writing at all on those days), so feeling the same apprehension and fear every time I tell myself, “Okay! Time to write” is new for me.

I’ve made myself write at least 500 words a day just to get my thoughts down on paper (or mostly, in my case, the computer screen), but this is really the first time I’ve made myself sit down every day to write four times as much for an actual first draft of an actual novel.

And it scares me. Every time.

The same fears come to mind:

What if I hit a wall?

What if I take the novel in the wrong direction?

What if I write dialogue that is so stupid it depresses me and makes it impossible to sleep, because I’ve turned my characters into idiots?

What if I’m an idiot?

What if I’m in way over my head with this, and I’m just wasting time writing a novel that no one will want to read (unless I pay them)?

And then all I can do is say, “Shut up! Shut UP! SHUT THE F*** UP!!! I’M GOING IN!”

And I go in, with earbuds in place, blocking out ambient noise with my “Writing/Editing” Spotify playlist, and I keep writing — interrupted a few times, because I’m a mom, and it happens.

But then I get back to writing. And I write until I’ve got at least 2,000 words. Usually, it’s more. Tonight, I wrote over 2,600 words, and I haven’t depressed myself. Not yet, anyway.

So, I hope all my fellow NaNoWriMo novelists are plugging away, day after day, jumping in with both feet in mad defiance of the same fears and doubts that try to stop you every time.

What’s it like for you when you work on your NaNoWriMo novel? Do you find that sticking to an outline helps lessen those fears? Or do you find that pantsing makes it more exciting and easier to say something that rhymes with bucket and just jump in screaming (sheer terror being only part of the reason why you’re screaming)?

I’m somewhere between a pantser and a plotter — something James Scott Bell calls a “tweener” in his brilliant book, Writing Your Novel from the Middle, which is a great book to read for all three types.

And, no, he didn’t pay me or give me free stuff to write that. I just like to share news about things that have helped me — with writing as with other things.

What scares you, and what keeps you going? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂


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