It is the last day of September, which means that November, i.e. National Novel Writing Month, is right around the corner. Writers all across the country will be spending those four weeks frantically trying to hit that 50,000 word count, and, for the first time ever, I will be joining their ranks in an attempt to break out of this writer’s funk I’ve been in since May and finally finish the first draft of my novel.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never seriously considered doing NaNoWriMo before this year. I first learned about it four years ago when I was a junior in college, a time where I was working predominantly on short stories (and a seemingly never-ending list of 7-8 page English papers). The notion of trying to write 50,000 words in a month was inconceivable to me; I’d never written even 20,000 words in a month!
The main reason I didn’t want to do NaNoWriMo, though, was I didn’t see the benefit of doing a quantity over quality type of approach to writing. To me, quality writing is and always will be more important than quantity, and I think a writing session that produces one genuinely good sentence is a thousand times better than a writing session that produces ten sloppy, poorly written pages. I am the type of writer who tries to make my first draft as close to perfect as possible, even though I know I will have to edit them extensively later on. I get very frustrated when I feel like I’m writing bad prose, and when I feel like I’m writing badly I have a tendency to shut down and just stop writing altogether.
This has been a very big issue that I’ve been dealing with this past summer, and is the primary cause of my current writer’s block. I am disappointed with the quality of the prose I’ve been producing on my psychopath novel every time I sit down to try and work on it, and when I see just how subpar the writing is by my standards, I shut down, delete everything I’ve written, and don’t even attempt to work on the story again for days or sometimes weeks at a time. This strategy is not only unproductive, but it’s discouraging as well, and has made me question on several occasions whether or not I’m cut out to be a writer in any regard.
All in all, not a very fun situation to be in, and one that I am very, *very* eager to get out of. I’ve hit the point where I’m willing to try anything I can think of to get out of it. It feels like I’ve tried everything thus far. I’ve tried writing everything out by hand in notebooks; I’ve tried writing things out on my Kindle Fire’s notebook app. I’ve tried writing for an hour in the morning; I’ve also tried writing for an hour at night. I’ve tried writing 500 words a day; I’ve tried just writing one good sentence in a day. I’ve tried working on other projects; I’ve tried editing what I’ve already written. You get the picture.
The one thing I *haven’t* done yet is the NaNoWriMo quantity over quality approach. I haven’t tried to, as a professor in my MPW put it, “lower my standards and just keep pushing forward,” because at the end of the day it’s better to have something to come back to, even if that something is garbage, than nothing at all. So, I figure it’s worth a shot at trying to do away with my initial instincts as a writer and just, for lack of a better phrase, word vomit onto the page for an entire month. At the very least it’ll be something different, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to finish the working first draft of my novel. Seems like a pretty good reason to me to at least try.