Keep calm. The countdown has begun.
It’s the end of October. Halloween is days away and I’ve seen buzz on the Internet on how people plan to celebrate in style during this pandemic-ridden year. But a lot of us wait with bated breath for what comes the next day: the official start to NaNoWriMo.
Yesterday, I sat down and dedicated four hours of my time to do some writing.
It started off with a couple creative writing exercises, you know, like a warm-up. After forty-five minutes, I decided to take a crack at re-writing the first chapter to my novel (this year’s NaNo being a rewrite + edit project to create the final draft for my manuscript.)
For months, I’d been staring at my printed manuscript with weary eyes. The pages are colored with red, green, and black – critical notes, grammatical edits, and rewrite suggestions take up every corner of the pristine white sheets.
I’ve spent this Preptober plotting , researching, and mapping out a detailed outline for the final draft. With my goal being to cut down on 40k words from the previous draft and get the manuscript to an ‘acceptable word count,’ I’ve also had to majorly change up the plot and characters.
While excited, a sense of fear had also lodged itself into my heart every time I looked at the manuscript on my desk. It’s five years of my work and my dreams defined by printed ink on loose sheets of paper. And now, I was going to rework it one, last time.
After an editor I hired scammed me, I needed a break from writing that novel. I looked for alternatives, got a group of beta-readers together, and earned valuable feedback and criticism from them. I got all of these notes together months ago but I couldn’t bring myself to actually work on implementing the changes.
There was a block. Call it stress, call it fear or insecurity, but it was there and it built over the months following the editor incident.
Yesterday, that block lifted.
I found myself reaching for that manuscript, not with shaky hands but determination. I started to flick through the first chapter and get overwhelmed again by all the colors on that page. The moment trepidation set in, I put the manuscript aside. What I needed was a fresh start.
Opening a blank Word doc, I simply started to write. With no prerequisites, no looming thought of “will this be good enough?” on the back of my mind.
3.5 hours later (with hot chocolate and stretch breaks sprinkled in between), I sat back and stared at the twelve pages I had written. Twelve pages that spanned the first chapter and the second for my final draft, and upcoming NaNo project.
I hadn’t even noticed the time go by, completely exhilarated by the experience of reconnecting with the characters I’d created 5 years ago and discovering them in new ways that delighted me.
It felt like coming home.
That is what I aspire to feel this NaNoWriMo. Not a pressure to perform or deliver the perfect final draft (perfect doesn’t exist!) But the unbridled joy and sense of belonging I can create for myself through my words and my stories.
I am going to conquer you.