According to The Artist’s Way a creative writer’s resource by Julia Cameron, “creativity flourishes in an atmosphere of safety and acceptance.” Earlier this weekend, I saw a twitter from a writer who was enormously frustrated by her lack of progress in this NaNoWriMo. She was choking from anxiety, every single time she sat down to write.
We can exert enormous pressure on ourselves, sometimes too much pressure. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love deadlines (even those that come at you like a Mack truck). They can be invigorating, challenging to just write and get the words on the paper ala Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die. Sadly, it is not uncommon to sit down to write and choke yourself because you are counting the words, counting the minutes, counting and comparing and criticizing and choking.
Sometimes, when that happens, you have to stop, take a step back and inventory why you want to do what you are doing? NaNoWriMo is a challenge. It’s a marathon, it’s a race to the finish line. But it’s not about who gets there faster. It’s not about who covers the most ground in the least amount of time. It’s about the journey that starts with your “Once upon a time…” and continues until you get to “…the end.”
What happens if you don’t finish your novel by the end of November?
Well, you keep writing it into December and January and February if you must. Your novel will take as long as your novel does. If you sit there, beating yourself up because you only wrote 500 words or you didn’t crack the computer open today – you won’t get there, because you will be too busy yelling at yourself.
Write for yourself. Write for your story. Write because it’s what you want to do. Let NaNoWriMo inspire, not stifle you. I suggested to the writer who tweeted her anxiety and frustration that she should not worry about writing for NaNoWriMo and just write for herself. Taking the artificial pressure of that deadline off will give your creativity an atmosphere of safety and acceptance to flourish in.
Remember – it’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey. Write well.