I recently made the decision to do NaNoWriMo in November, and I’ve spent a lot of October stressing out about that choice. The thing is, that I used to write all the time. I started writing a very dramatic, very terrible novel when I was 10. I worked on that book for 2 years, and it was never very good, but I was dedicated. Now, I think about writing more than I actually take the time to do it. So, now I’ve talked to several people about it, and I’ve verbally committed to at least trying to write several pages a day every day for a month. Seriously, I’m freaking out.
I did a little research, and got several helpful books from the library because I decided that I wanted to write a mystery. I enjoy mysteries, and I’ve read and watched a ton of them. I’ve started to do a little planning, though, in keeping with the rules of NaNoWriMo, I’m mostly just thinking about a plot outline. I’m not doing any actual writing until November 1. Because I find the task in front of me pretty daunting, I decided to read a ton of mysteries in preparation, which hasn’t been the best idea. The fact is, consuming a large quantity of mysteries in a short period of time–at one point, I had 4 going at once. I’m down to 2 now–is easy. Producing something is harder, and it is much, much scarier.
There’s nothing at risk if I read a novel. Maybe it’s good; that’s cool. Maybe it’s bad; oh, well. But writing something–even something simple, like a blog entry–is scarier than watching TV. What if it’s dumb? What if I say something that’s wrong or that upsets people. What if it’s terrible and everyone knows that I’m a terrible, dumb, sucky writer? Or what if no one reads it at all? What people leave nasty comments? Creating something that you share means putting yourself out there to be judged, whereas sitting on my couch on a rainy Saturday with a blanket, a cup of coffee and a book is easy.
So, I was taking time that I was supposed to be spending journaling or blogging and I was just reading those 4 books I had going at once, and if the book was good, I was deflated because I’d never be able to do anything as good as that. And if the book was not great, then I worried that it was still better than what I’ll be able to produce. After all, it’s a novel written in a month, so there are going to be typos and there may be scenes that could use a lot of punching up, but I have these perfectionist tendencies that make it hard to accept that I might spend a lot of time doing something that is not my best work. I’m worried that it will seem like a stupid project and I will quit early on and never finish.
These were all fears I didn’t have to face while I was watching reruns of Veronica Mars and pretending it was so I could break down Rob Thomas’ story structure, but really, it was just to avoid thinking about whether or not my book idea was any good. Now, I’m forcing myself to read less, which sounds like a terrible thing. But I’m using the act of reading (consuming a book or 4) to avoid producing something, which is scary as hell, but I think it will ultimately be worth it. It’s an ambitious goal to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but it would be a really huge accomplishment. I want to give it a try.