It is now the end of my NaNoWriMo experiment. I did not write a novel. I did not write 50000 words. I did not pass Go. I did not collect $200. But I did write almost every day, and I tried to get at least 500 words in when I wrote. I came close enough to this goal to be happy, and to call this experiment a “win”.
As a bonus, I learned a lot about myself and about how I write. I can tell you are all just dying to know, so in the words of the great Samuel Mo-Fo Jackson: “Hold on to your butts.”
I LIKE TO WRITE.
That seems less monumental now that I see it in print. I mean, “Duh”, right? But I was getting to the point of dreading my time at the keyboard. I wanted every line to be perfect and I wanted everyone to believe my writing was perfect and I wanted to fit my square-ass peg in a round-ass hole. Over thinking and editing every line lead to slow and painful writing, and when I couldn’t keep up with what I thought my imagined pace should be, I wrote less and had less joy doing it.
NaNoWriMo, however, is all about writing without editing. Just letting the words fly out onto the paper, all willy-nilly and higgley-piggley. I about had a coronary the first few days. But then I got into it. It became fun. Nothing made sense at first, but I didn’t care. I was writing, and as I wrote, I found golden nuggets along the way.
My main golden nugget? Writing is a whole lot more fun when I’m not being such an anal asshole to myself.
MY WRITING STYLE IS MESSY.
I write the same way I clean my house. I make a fantastic mess and then somehow, in between looking at old photos and reading long forgotten sales flyers, I organize it into place again. I also leave cupboard doors open while I am cooking. I don’t know if this is related, but it drives certain people in my life crazy. So if leaving cupboard doors open is a pet peeve of yours, feel free to rant about it in the comments. It won’t change anything, but I know it will make you feel better.
I am much happier and more productive when I make a big writing mess, and then go thru it all later and puzzle it into a single, flowing, beautiful, angelic document of pure bliss and perfection. It is absolutely just as time consuming as my old way of writing one sentence and then editing it to death, but I get to write a lot more and I am editing less. I believe speed and overall better writing will take place over time and if it doesn’t – who cares? But it will. And you know why? Because of…
Why am I so old before I am finally understanding the concept of practice and not perfection?
When I was a teenager, my friends and I were Steve Martin fanatics, to the point of purchasing banjos and taking banjo lessons. Serious groupie behavior. However, to play the banjo with the same skill as Steve Martin involves years of dedicated practice. YEARS. And I wanted perfection, and I wanted it yesterday. I still love Steve Martin, but I no longer own a banjo. I sold it when I realized that I would never dedicate enough time and energy to being that good. It was a desire, but it wasn’t a dream I was willing to fight that hard for.
Writing has been a similar experience for me – I believed I was supposed to be perfect right out of the gate. Except I wasn’t. And my writing was all over the place. And I kept switching my genre. And writing became a chore.
But this WAS my dream. And still is. I refused to give up. And still do. I will be in Kristin Lamb’s 5% of 5% of 5%, even if it takes me until I’m 90. Even if I suck. Even if no other living human ever reads another word I write, although that would be terribly depressing.
Because my new attitude is practice. I can’t get better if I’m not writing. I can’t find open doors and opportunities if I am not actively learning and participating in the writing world. And I now know that it will always be “practice” and not “perfection. And I am so very okay with that. Finally.
Photography is a lot of fun, but it’s not my first love. I have time to be either a really good photographer or a really good writer. I have to pick one and commit (which also relates to genre).
So I am going to stop muddying the waters of my blog, and will be pulling away from photo challenges and instead focusing on humorous posts as they relate to day-to-day living. I will publish every two weeks. On a Monday. With a full elvish moon. Carved into stone by Wolverine at high tide during the festival of Shirtless Jackman, while Steve Martin plays Foggy Mountain.
I will write one. But not this year. This year, I will be focusing on practice, establishing permanent writing habits, doing a few workshops, reading books about writing – that sort of thing. Oh yeah and maybe realize my dream of being the next Sue DeGroot. Who is great, by the way. In case you missed that.
Of course I will still be biking and hiking and rolling around in the dirt and picking wood ticks off the dogs and eating butt loads of cake, and then coming back here to tell you about it – humorously of course. But I think…I think it will finally all make sense. At least to me. You guys are probably screwed.
PS. Thanksgiving was awesome and pie filled – it’s the one time of year pie is an acceptable alternative over cake.
PPS. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you all gained as much weight as I did. Because I’m considerate that way.
PSS. I would like to thank all of you who have inspired me and encouraged me to keep writing. Some of you know who you are. Some of you have no idea. I was going to name names, but chances are I will forget someone significant and then feelings will be hurt and wars will rage and all of mankind will cease to exist. So instead, here are the letters of all the initials of all of you. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z. And the entire Klingon alphabet, just for good measure.