First Draft-itis and how my NaBloPoMo goal is helping.

Today is November 15, which means that I’m officially halfway to my NaBloPoMo goal. It hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be, though there have been some days that I’ve been like, “What in the world could I possibly write about today?” I mean, technically there are TONS of things that I could write about, but I’m actually not that interesting a person. (Evidence: this post.)

But honestly, I didn’t challenge myself to write 30 days of killer content. I challenged myself to write 30 days of blog posts, period. I wanted to get myself back in the habit of actually DOING the blog thing, instead of just thinking about doing it.

keep-calm-and-write-the-draftIn some ways, it’s been like writing a first draft: I have to shut off my inner critic and just write. Sure, I proofread, and sure, I’ve corrected some typos after the fact (doing things like that is in my type-A DNA). But honestly, if I’m writing 30 posts in 30 days I don’t have time to labor over every single one. I kind of have to go with my gut and just get it out onto the page (or screen, as the case may be).

I’m sort of struggling with First Draft-itis on my current WIP. There are lots of things about this project that are just sticky. For one thing, it has multiple, first-person narrators. In the back of my head, there’s a niggling voice asking me WHY? WHY DID YOU PICK FIRST PERSON, YOU NIMROD? (The niggling voice isn’t very nice, if you couldn’t tell.)

But I do not have time to entertain those kinds of niggling voices. I’m on a deadline, and because I have a full-time day job that keeps me more than busy, I have to work toward that deadline with daily word goals. Realistic ones that I still can’t meet 100% of the time. I can’t allow myself to reread more than what I wrote during my previous session, even if I am having difficulty keeping my facts/timelines straight. Then I’ll just spend all of my writing hours tweaking/shaping instead of making progress.

I’m like Abraham in The Walking Dead: I can’t go back, I can only move forward.

Even as I press forward, though, I feel like I’m getting lost in the words. HOW AM I GOING TO WRITE MYSELF OUT OF THIS? WHAT CAN POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO CONNECT POINT A TO POINT B? I have a road map to this novel – and exhaustive chapter-by-chapter break down – and yet I’m still scratching my head most nights.

When this happens, I make myself think of E.L. Doctorow and the whole writing-is-like-driving-at-night-in-the-fog metaphor: “You can only see as far as your headlights but you can make the whole trip that way.”

I’m trying to focus on that, because with each 400-word goal, each 600-word goal, each 1,000-word goal, I’m inching along to my destination. And the best part is that even the days I think I’m writing utter crap, I’m actually not. When I read it the next day, I’m often surprised that the 489 words I struggled to pull out of my brain are actually quite good.

It’s good to be writing my way out of the fog, whether it’s in Scrivener or Word Press or old-school paper. Now I just need to get better at shutting off my inner critic. And this, ultimately, is where NaBloPoMo is helping. Because again: I don’t have the time for the navel gazing. I wouldn’t want to waste it on that even if I did.

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