by guest blogger Lois Eighmy
Sometimes she may be right, but more often, she is not. I went through a long time of not writing anything because I let my inner critic tell me I was no good at it. What could possibly make me think I could write a good story?
Then I made an incredible discovery in 2006 when I heard about Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). In Nanowrimo, the point is to write 50,000 words in 30 days (typically during the month of November). They don’t have to be good words. They don’t have to make sense. You just have to sit down and write 50,000 words (roughly 1,667 words per day).
If you make it to 50K at the end of the month, you are a winner and you receive a winner’s certificate. If you do not make it by midnight on the 30th day, you still have the satisfaction of having tried and done your best.
And let me tell you, if you tried and you stuck it out, you are still a winner in my book, whether you reached 50K or not!
I thought about what I would write for my first Nanowrimo Novel and I came up with a great story about the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. I did not do much preparing or outlining, but I created some quick characters and made a timeline for their births, deaths and the most important events.
When November 1 rolled around, I just began writing. I let the story take over instead of trying to make some sense out of it. It may seem like a sloppy way to write, but when you have not written anything in a long time, this is a good way to get the creative juices flowing again!
You have to shove the inner critic out of the way and ignore him or her and just write your heart out. It does not all have to make sense. It just has to be written.
So, how did I do on my first Nanowrimo Novel? Well, at one point early in the novel, I found my timeline wasn’t working with the story and I took a few hours one night to rewrite it . . . AFTER I’d done my writing for the day . . . then I continued with the story AND I WON! I was so excited to have written a novel, from beginning to end, and I was ecstatic!
I was so pleased with my experience that I have participated in Nanowrimo in 2007 and 2008. And I’ve won both times. I plan on winning again in 2009, as well!
My inner critic still tells me that the only reason I won is because I’m a stay-at-home wife, and maybe she is correct. Or maybe she is not. Other people have gone on to complete novels while holding down more than one job or going to college while working, so that is certainly not the reason I finished. I finished because I ignored the inner critic while writing. I waited until the story was finished before unleashing my inner critic’s fury.
Because of Nanowrimo, I have gone on to write eight more novels . . . and not all of them have been for Nanowrimo.
So what do I do with my stories now that the rough drafts have been written? That’s a good question. This brings me to the other major struggle I have: the FEAR OF SUCCESS.
Fear of success? How can anyone be afraid to succeed, you might ask.
I am afraid of many things. I am a shy person, so I am afraid of the thought of reading aloud to other people (doing readings). I am afraid of doing meets and greets and having my photo taken for publicity. I am afraid of what the critics will have to say about my work, as all new writers probably are.
But I think there is something more to it than that. I think I am afraid that my “good ideas” will come to an end and I will be a failure in the long run. I think I am afraid that success will change me into someone I do not want to be. I am afraid . . . I am afraid . . . I am afraid. . . .
But just like the inner critic needs to be ignored during the writing process, my fear needs to be conquered if I want to be a published author. I just have to take baby steps. I have to take these steps in defiance of my fear.
Will I succeed? I have to believe I will. I will face my fear so I can move forward in making my dream of being a published author a reality. I will use my fear as a challenge, as something to strive to overcome. I will take one step at a time until there are no more steps to take. I will do this with each book I write that I want to publish. And I will stay positive and keep my head up.
I am a writer. I write to please myself. If others should happen to enjoy my stories, too, then that’s a happy bonus I’ll be thankful for!
LOIS EIGHMY is a stay-at-home wife, artist and avid blogger (LMEighmy). Her art cards can be ordered as personalized greeting cards (Note Cards by Lois Eighmy). She writes short stories and novels and hopes to have them published one day soon. Lois lives in Arkansas with her husband and family and her cat, Chloe, but dreams of moving back to Maine, the land of her childhood.
Greeting card image, “Anthurium,” Copyright © Lois Eighmy