Permission to write badly granted

As a child reader, I devoured Enid Blyton books by the dozen. My friend, whose father was a librarian, was banned from Enid Blyton as he considered it bad fiction.

Years later, I was still an avid reader, reading all sorts of things, while she hated reading.

The difference? Because I’d had the chance to build up my reading muscles, I could tackle much more, while she, trying to read only the meaty stuff, never built up that ability.

I mention this because last night I finally got back to my nano novel. It was that realisation that I’d forgotten what nano was all about. The focus during nano is quantity, not quality, on the basis that the quality will follow when it’s ready. So I faithfully wrote my 50k + words, and reached the end of November. Then I thought: Okay, that’s the first draft over. I know it’s rubbish, but it was nano, and that’s all about word count. Now I need to get back to it and do it properly this time.

So I sat expecting what came out to be more carefully formed and meaningful, grew frustrated and stopped completely.

Last night I decided that if I was going to get any further on the project, I needed to let go of this desire to write well, and just write. It worked. The words started coming, and as I relaxed and let go of the need to perfect every sentence before writing they flowed more smoothly.

So I’m going to continue building up my writing muscles, not expecting myself to produce any masterpieces until I’ve written loads and loads of rubbish. After all, we don’t expect any artist to pick up their tools and produce a masterpiece without learning how to use their tools and doing a lot of scribbling and practising first, and there’s no reason why I should expect myself to produce anything anywhere near publishable quality without outputting a lot of practice work first.

Does it matter what I write? Not that much. I’ll be completing a coherent draft of my nano novel – which means that the whole story follows continuity and makes sense, but not that it’s brilliant prose or detailed descriptions. Then I’ll probably put it to one side for a while and work on my fantasy novel until I have a draft of that. Then I can bounce back to the nano novel, which by then will have brewed for a while, and pick it up again with my slightly improved skills and continue to bounce between them until one – or both – is finished.

Thank you, nanowrimo – I’m sorry I forgot your lesson so quickly.



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