Giving Yourself Permission to Write

Many of my Twitter peeps are deep into #NaNoWriMo right now, this masochistic movement every November where writers produce a full first draft of a novel in 30 days. I’m exhausted just writing that sentence.

writer-1129708_1280While I’ve been an on-and-off creative writer for nearly three decades now, I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo. Part of it is that I am too inclined to revise as I go, and I don’t see how you can generate 50,000 or more words in a month if you keep stopping to edit. The larger reason, however, is that NaNoWriMo requires you to produce pages each and every day. For those of us with jobs and families and obligations–that’s just about every writer, it seems–something has to give for you to dedicate so much to the muse.

I’ve been working on an urban fantasy novel since July, and I just passed the 90,000-word mark this week. I’m about 3/4 of the way through the first draft (although several scenes are on their second or third draft). My pace is slower than that of a NaNoWriMo participant because I haven’t found the time to write every day. Each time I skip there’s a legitimate reason–I have a busy day of work, I’m spending time with my wife or one of my kids–but I’m still making a choice, and that choice leaves my muse waiting on the sidelines.

desert-landscape-1149773_1280That will change soon. I’ll be taking a few days off from my day job and holing myself up in a modest place in the Mojave Desert, where I’ll do nothing but hike and write. When I have no other distractions, I can produce pages like nobody’s business. I actually think I might be able to complete my first draft on this trip. If I don’t give myself this dedicated time, it’s possible I won’t have a draft completed by the end of the year.

I don’t know how NaNoWriMo participants find the time to write each and every day for a month. My admiration for them knows no bounds. But I’m giving myself permission to walk away soon from my other obligations to spend four days and three nights with my muse. She deserves it.

5 thoughts on “Giving Yourself Permission to Write

  1. pjreece

    NaNoWriMoShmamo… here in Vancouver we had an annual fiction contest over the Labour Day long weekend — three days! to produce 50,000 words. I entered twice. On one of those occasions I got into an argument with my girlfriend and she slammed the door on me — the door to our bedroom/office — an old door in an crooked old house full of doors that didn’t close properly — that hadn’t closed in decades — but the slamming sure closed that door such that I couldn’t open it. Not for love or money. I kept typing my novel happily enough until — yes until — eventually I had to crawl out the window and shimmy down the drain pipe and almost killed myself landing on the broken front stops of that old house. Isn’t writing fun! And good luck everyone NaNoWriMoWriting!

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  2. Love the Mojave desert plan! I’ve never participated in NaNo and probably never will for very similar reasons to yourself. I edit as I go and wouldn’t be able to allow myself to do – what would feel to me to be – ‘sloppy’ writing. Enjoy your time out to write…

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  3. Pingback: Three Lessons I Learned While Writing a Novel First Draft – The Artist's Road

  4. Bee

    Permission to create has always been a huge topic. In this era more than ever. Obligations do play a role in my not being able to get to it EVERY day. But I have certainly found that I have to schedule a few days a week beforehand so I get in some work to my creative goals. Furthermore, having someone to meet up with weekly for a ‘touch base’ on progress, or even non-progress (cuz life happens sometimes) is extremely helpful to just keep the wheels of production from stopping all together.

    Kudos. Enjoy your desert time. Hopefully it will spring forth a wealth of lubricating ideas!

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