Last year in November, my writing group decided to do our own version of the popular NaNoWriMo. Every one of us was in the middle of a novel and we decided we would use November and December to push for the end.
The experiment was an interesting one for me. (I was forbidden to say I failed. Don't hit me. T.)
You see, I'd never done NaNoWriMo before, and have always been a slow writer who edits (obsessively) as I go. During those two months, I did have a few days when I just wrote without worrying about how well I was writing or how the current chapter fitted in the entire novel. Those days were awesome, awesome, awesome.
Then there were those (many) other days that found me stalled and hesitant and semi-paralyzed or just plain busy. (Yes, we decided afterwards that it was silly to try this during the most holiday-heavy time of the year.)
Now it's a new year and new years tend to fill me with hope again. Call me naive. So here I am, resuming my intention for my novel, which is to move forward so that I have a finished draft to slash, I mean rework.
And I'm finding that it's just as hard in January as it has been in November and December.
Just when I am fidgeting and the butt glue is coming loose, I get an email from my writing friend. And it's about how we need to give up grandiose ideas about ourselves and our writing, and then we can write what we need to write.
I have grandiose and less grandiose ideas about my writing. I have doubts and fears. I have a repertoire of craft principles gleaned from writing professionals. I have the lasting impressions and memories of millions of sentences that have passed through my mind.
But none of it, whether it is a wish to touch someone with my book or a fear that it will not be good enough for anyone or the recognition of brilliant sentence or an assurance I have portrayed a character honestly, is helpful at this writing stage.
What I need is to clear my head of anything extraneous to the story I'm writing.
Easier said than done, obviously, but an excellent reminder for when I'm lamenting my cliche-heavy prose and confusing dialogues and wooden characters and meaningless plot twists and the over-abundance of interiority.
To just keep writing. Humbly and with great conviction that it needs to be written.