At over 400 pages in its first draft, my current WIP is a monster. Meandering, and repetitive, I spent so many words figuring out the world of my story, getting to know the characters, learning their motives, their passions, their faults. When I started writing this book during my first ever NaNoWriMo in November 2014, I had at most 4-5 pages of handwritten notes. I planned very little, jumping into the story with only a few vague ideas about setting, characters, and plot points.
I am a pantser. Everything I have written to this point supports that fact. I don’t outline, and sometimes barely even brainstorm before diving into the story. I’ll have an idea for a scene and take off. I let myself get ahead of planning, even when I tell myself that I will try to do some amount of planning this time.
I guess it’s not in my nature to plan every last detail, or even know where I’m going, before I put my hands to the keyboard and start typing away.
I recently sent my WIP, all 400+ pages of it to the print shop and invested thirty bucks in printing out the monster. I seriously underestimated how big and how heavy 400 pieces of paper are. They gave me a cardboard carrier to carry the beast home. And schlepping that thing on the subway and the walk home was about as pleasant as it sounds.
So far, I’ve read about half of it. And man, reading your own aimless writing is painful.
I know I drafted most of this in harried sprints during NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, and I know many typos are innocent sacrifices to the goal of getting to my word count. But slogging through my story has been rough. I am a better writer than this, and now I am very determined to prove it in my revisions.
I’ve read advice from so many authors, all saying that a story is really written in revisions. But for me, sitting down to revise has none of the magic of discovery of the first draft. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s terrifying, and unpleasant at every turn. I am paralyzed with fear, with self doubt demons whispering in my ear: I am not a good writer, I don’t have a story to tell, I will never be good enough to publish.
Tomorrow is July 1. That makes Day 1 of Camp NaNoWriMo. And for Camp, my two goals are simple:
- Make my creative pursuits a nearly daily habit
- Ignore the demons of self doubt, for a least 31 days, and get to work
It’s hard for me to set a quantifiable and trackable goal for Camp this time around, but I’ll be satisfied if I can manage to get out of my own head and get to work.