I've put off writing for years.
I've kissed novels good bye for the simple reason of being too scared of not doing the "writing" thing right.
Even now, I have days that I am stopped dead in my tracks by my fear of screwing this thing up. And I've signed up for a pretty huge event. I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. That would be National Novel Writing Month, for those who've never heard of this madness.
And, I do believe you have to be a little mad to do NaNo. It's 50,000 words in 30 days.
First draft. Not revising something you've already done.
I'm working backwards on another novel that I want to have drafted before the beginning of November, and I'm almost half-way done with it. But I am discovering the benefits to having characters and settings well planned before drafting. Trying to write about a fantasy world with characters who withhold precious information about themselves without really defining some of these things can be tricksy, and often sticky. I know there will be a lot of revising after the NaNo novel is done, but that's okay. I'm writing.
One of those quotes that will eventually become a wallpaper on my computer, and probably find its way to my office wall is from my darling friend Allie McCormack: You can't edit what you don't write. Oh, my dear Allie... I will have SO much editing when this draft is done.
It's horrible writing.
It's book one of three.
It's horrible writing.
But it's writing. And it's getting written. I can go back and doctor it, fix the inconsistencies, add the details and swap out words for stronger, more well-developed phrases later.
Right now, I'm writing.
I've been given permission to write crap, as long as I am writing.
Even when I feel like crap, and I'm in the grip of a migraine, I try to get out my pen and notebook, and scratch out a scene or two. Even if it's only note about some important thread of the story, like the religion in my fantasy novel, I do something. It's a devotional practice.
I'm adding on to those 10,000 hours that they say it takes to master a skill. At an hour a day, I should be quite skilled indeed by the time I'm in my 80's. And when I think about that, I have to resist the urge to kick myself for waiting so damn long to get started. It drives me when my daughter says she has a new novel idea she wants to write (she's 11), and I encourage her to get busy writing it down. I find little things that can help her add up those hours now, and try to share what I learn as I learn it.
We're story-tellers after all, her and I. It's what we do.
*This post originally appeared on one of my old blogs, on Oct. 3, 2016. I will be moving the blog posts over there to sagewolfsong.com gradually.*