[I’m a municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo this year! This is the week two pep talk I sent to my region.]
My dear, lovely Galway wrimos,
We’re here, in double-digit NaNo days! We’re a third of the way there! Pause for a mini dance party in celebration!
But hey, I know, we’re also deep in the throes of week two. Week two always reminds me of the Doldrums from The Phantom Tollbooth (that completely brilliant children’s novel about the imagination that, if you haven’t read it, ohmygodpleasedoit’ssogreat). That momentum and excitement you had at the beginning of the month might be wearing off, and you might find your novel-car puttering to a slow plod through an uninspiring forest, or even stopping altogether. It’s hard to see the top of that 50,000-word mountain from here. You might be falling out of that first blush of story love you felt a week or so ago.
(OK, was that enough mixed depressing metaphors for you yet?)
Yes, writing a novel is hard, and at some point finishing that draft always seems impossible, whether you’re trying to do it in one month or one lifetime. BUT. I want to tell you this right now:
No book is important enough to beat you.
I suffered horribly and anxiously over writing my third book, far more so than either of the previous ones, for all sorts of reasons: it was the first book I was drafting under contract, it was a sequel, I was going through all sorts of those personal crises that seem to wait to strike until creativity does. I felt so much anxiety about that stupid book that I avoided it with a passion, for so long that I turned it in to my editor painfully late. Like, I won’t even tell you how late it was. I can’t. It’s too embarrassing.
But I finished it. Late, imperfect, miles short of the masterwork I wanted it to be–I still finished that book. And when I sent it to my editor, the relief that washed over me was so unbelievably huge. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had, even as I sat with the knowledge that the manuscript wasn’t nearly as “good” as I’d hoped it would be. It was done. I’d written the book I’d genuinely thought was impossible.
What made me finish it at last was exactly that knowledge that it wasn’t great. Because it wasn’t that dreamed-of masterpiece, well . . . I certainly wasn’t going to let some not great book beat me. If my book wanted to be bad, fine–I wanted it to be finished.
And I won.
This draft you’re heroically typing, this NaNoWriMo monster that’s entrancing and betraying you by turns–it’s not tougher than you. It’s not important enough to beat you. No book is. No book, ever, is.
I know week two can be tough. But every time you hit the keyboard, you get one word closer to showing your novel who’s boss.
And you get closer to week three. Which, trust, is way more fun.
You’re tougher than your book. Go prove it.