As I gear up for NaNoWriMo, there’s this small pit of dread somewhere between the back of my throat and my stomach. (What can I say, it moves.)
But. I’ve had this pit of dread before.
Sure, I’ve drafted a handful of manuscripts, I’ve even polished one or two. Yet, every time I gear up for NaNoWriMo, I end up with this familiar dread:
Maybe… I can’t write anymore.
Common Pre-Drafting Fears
This fear manifests in many forms.
- Last time was a fluke — This was the flavor of my fear after my first full manuscript. My first encounter with being intimidated with the blank page.
- You don’t know enough about this world/character to tell this story — A bit of my fear going into my school play story. And my gender-bent Robin Hood story was that both were almost more about the concept than the story. Okay, maybe I’m still a little worried about that and it’s stalling the edits.
- Can you even pace a chapter, much less a manuscript? – This is the fear that, combined with the lack of a full length story to tell — morphed into my NaNoWriMo of short stories. Which, I think helped. As long as I pay attention to what I learned while writing.
- You can’t do this particular story justice — Definitely the flavor of my current fear. I tried writing this story last year, and my space fantasy turned into tax fraud and school field trips.
Ways to Fight Those Fears
Despite my fears, I really enjoy being a part of NaNoWriMo. As I’m motivated by momentum and would hate to miss another year, I’m going all-in again. So, I try to reassure myself in a variety of ways.
- I don’t know if this will work for you, but I remember how I worried my first manuscript was trash, until I read it, and found out it didn’t stink as much as I’d feared.
- Recite the saying: you need to spend 10,000 hours on something before you can master it. Decide this is part of you putting in your time.
- Remind yourself that no one ever needs to see it when you finish. You’re not obligated to publish it.
- I reassure myself, even if I can’t turn it into a full novel, I can use it to work on my craft, and maybe pull some short stories out of the mess.
- I remember that I’ve been through this feeling of intimidation, but always found the words before.
While I know not all of you enjoy the NaNoWriMo experience, if you write, some of these fears may have crossed your mind a time or two.
Camp NaNo for some reason just doesn’t share the same impetus for me. I’ve failed more Camp NaNos than I care to admit. (April and July events, where you set your own goal. I often use them to edit or add to an incomplete manuscript.) Something about NaNoWriMo keeps drawing me in, though.
Which fears are the biggest for you?
How do you fight your fears?
How do you psych yourself up for drafting a new manuscript?
All of my novels, so far, started as one, then several short stories, then they morphed into a novel. I find writing a short story (or novelette) comes more easily.
And, of course, for the ideas, you put a $20 bill in an envelope and mail it to Schenectady, NY…. https://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2010/04/02/schenectady-or-where-do-you-get-your-ideas/ (Except I thought it was Barry Malzberg who gave that answer, and it’s $20).
You seem a bit too excited or eager in the vlog. You have five solutions, but mention four in the recording because you lost count. (You mentioned “tip three” twice.) 🙂
Oh dear. There must have been a copy/paste error into my script prompter.
Ahhhh! Bulleted lists don’t come with copy/paste, just the text. So, I lost count.
Relieved to know I didn’t repeat tip 3, just numbered wrong.
The 10,000 hours thing is such a great way to look at it. Another way is the ‘your first million words will suck’ method, where you focus on reaching your quota before thinking of coming up with something perfect. Anyway, thanks for this post!
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