NaNo Lessons: Write that Garbage

Every first draft is a mess.  It’s a handful of diamonds covered in a ton of raw sewage and garbage.  It is imperfection and weirdness crossed with this expression: 

It sounds fine when you talk about writing garbage, or when you read about others talking about it.  But it doesn’t feel fine when you actually sit down and write it.  Even if it’s your 8th frickin’ year to do it.  I go through this every November, because outside of NaNo I fall into the unfortunate habit of editing as I write. Which slows production epically.  Yet I keep doing it because I can’t stand to have red squiggles underlining my words or the same word used three times in a single paragraph.

But NaNo demands you overlook those glaring blemishes to get on with the story.

And, you know, actually finish under a deadline.

It sucks, it’s hard, and it’s the best kind of motivation to just ignore what’s underfoot and keep going.

My head is full of garbage writing and garbage ideas and garbage scenes.  Thing is, I know that, and I get scared of letting it out because it’s, well, garbage.  I know I can do better.  I know I have done better, and I really don’t want anyone else to ever see this kind of blech.  That’s just the insecurities and ticks of doubt talking, though.  Once I push them out of the way and let the garbage flow forth, I trod through a lot of yuck, but I end up with some puddles of hey, that’s not so bad, I can work with that.

Writing is work, and it’s messy, but you can’t make it pretty and tight and awesome until you’ve sorted the parts of it that aren’t.  Most of writing is just holding your nose and diving in over and over.  Then there comes that threshold where you can either back off or keep going.  For me, that is the end of November.  I usually keep it up for a few days, maybe a couple weeks, but then I slip back into editing as a I go.

This time I’m working to consciously break that habit.  I came out of this NaNo with a lot of good material, but I still need to write at least 70% of new material for the book.  So I am not going to edit it until I get that 70% written.  What I have now is a seeping, saggy, soggy mess.  It’s a glaring eyesore and my fingers itch to beat out spelling mistakes and horrible writing.  But I’m going to keep going.  Even when I slip up and waste time editing last night’s passage, I’m going to stop, take a breath, and keep writing.

Because I’ve seen a glimpse of what treasures are hidden under the garbage prose and dialogue.  I want to see them in their entirety, and I can’t until I have the entire fetid bundle, complete, in my hands.  I just need to trust myself and my instincts to get me there.



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