I stressed, I worried, I won!

I have had a little leave of absence from you, my lovely blogees. I wasn’t off sick, I just went AWOL for a little while as my brain found a new project to be excited and immersed in. The clocks changed at the end of October and I was left pretty much unable to ride for most of the week. It was then that it dawned on me that I would soon have to start doing some fitness work, using my Wii and going running like a good, healthy and conscientious girl. I wasn’t sure that I was quite ready for it and I went off in search of another method of procrastination. One of my lovely twitter friends suggested something, which seemed so strange and foreign that it didn’t even seem like a word. It went by the term NaNoWriMo, which I think is solely created to make the person saying it, feel ridiculous.

So what is NaNoWriMo? Well, it is a writing project, which asks you to do nothing until the 1st November and then you must write a 50,000 word piece of fiction by November 30th. You are not meant to plan or even think about your story until the 1st November and then, from the 1st to the 30th, you spew out around 2000 words a day, to get to your target. I didn’t decide to join until around the 4th, which doesn’t sound like a long time after kick off, but in laymen terms, it was 8000 words later. So, whilst I was hitting my first thousand, some were already at the 10,000 word mark.

Nevertheless, I struggled on and somehow fitted in writing 50,000 words around a 48 hour week and numerous social occasions. It wasn’t always easy, but the excitement I felt on writing my fifty thousandth word was immense. I was leaping about the house as though I had been elected as Prime Minister. All I had done was throw together 100 pages of random words, strung together in what one could very loosely describe as sentences.

The one thing that every writer has in common is the haunting feeling that they aren’t good enough, that their work isn’t clever, meaningful or witty enough. Everyone wants to be good at something, but to write is to lay yourself bare. It is not quite like playing a game of football, after all, if you aren’t playing too well, there will be other members of the team to pull you out of the quagmire and see you through the match. Neither is it like a runner, who has spent months training and is racing with the sole intention to win. Everyone can recognise who the best runner is without any knowledge of the sport. We all know, put simply, that the first to cross the line wins the medals. (As long as they haven’t been pretending to be a woman or taking drugs anyway.) Writing is much more subjective than that. Even if you enjoy your own writing, and chances are you will as no one else writes with such like-minded opinions as yourself, there’s no telling who else will enjoy it. Plus, nearly everyone can write in some form or another, so it makes it very hard to distinguish yourself as someone who enjoys writing or is even any good at it. These are the kind of neuroses that a writer suffers from and what makes it so hard to let anybody read what you have written.

The idea of the NaNoWriMo concept is that you write, without pausing to think or worry about what you are writing. You don’t have time to worry about the crippling doubts and worries that normally stop a project before it has even got off the ground. Anyone who has written anything – especially something like an essay – knows that planning is key. I constantly have so many great ideas to start a story or a script off with, but I get so bogged down in the planning, that I end up hating it before I’ve even written it. Hence, you never start writing it. With NaNoWriMo, you have very little choice; I hated my story pretty early on, but I kept going through the hate and although it has elements of the terrible about it, there are some promising moments. If I so wanted, I could edit it all the way through December and I would have the beginnings of quite a fun story.

I have written more this year than I have at any other time and that’s through NaNoWriMo (50,011 words doncha know) and my weekly blog. I’ve always wanted to be paid to write, but actually, what would I do as a hobby then? Writing a blog can involve agonising over the slightest changes of words, which I’m sure the reader would never notice. It is that attention to detail that you have to forget all about in NaNoWriMo and I did it. Ok, I wrote some absurd things, like “she sat in a quiet silence”, but I wrote 50,000 bloody words with no sign of a plot whatsoever. If I can do that, I could write something decent with a plot and it could only take a few months. It was immensely liberating and as such, I know that I am much better to get some writing done, so that when I’m in the death by planning stage, I haven’t got to start with a blank page and I can just leave the planning to write the story. Ok, it might not be used in the end, but you learn a lot more about your characters by letting your fingers think for you.

It’s just a shame that my job, in the veterinary industry, doesn’t require badly written stories very often. Afterall, I am the star of them now. Of course, I am no writer. I am not paid to write. But even when I write for my blog, there is a slight inner worry that what I am writing won’t be good enough for my readers. It’s ludicrous, but it’s just the way I am. I hope that people have enjoyed my writing this year and that they haven’t been too angered, or even worse, apathetic, about them.

My blog is like a rash, it’s not going to go away and each week, when you think it’s gone away, you find a new little spot to scratch and it flares up again. I’m going to leave you with that image until next week’s bout of dermatitis.