It’s NaNoWriMo time! This is a truly great time of year for writers. It’s always a treat to see everyone come together to talk about their writing process and to know that everyone is in the same boat at the same time. Wordcounts are on the rise, inspiration is flowing, and everyone is doing a great job of encouraging each other to keep going.
Ah! If only every month of the year were like this!
It’s a wonderful thing to have public encouragement and support for what we do as writers. The trouble is, more often than not we have to go it alone. We all know that writers are writing every day. Deadlines and goals exist 365 days of the year. If we’re lucky then we’ve found ourselves an encouraging group of like-minded people to keep us going when the going gets tough.
But what do you do in the middle of March when you’re slaving away at a tricky chapter that just isn’t turning out right? What do you do when it’s torture to crank out 500 words a day, let alone 50,000 in a month? How do you get through that?
It helps to belong to a writer’s group, in person or online. I belong to several and they’ve helped me immeasurably. Writers need other writers, plain and simple. We need each other for support and understanding. No one understands the gravity of panic in the face of a looming deadline like another writer. We need each other for a laugh. No one can laugh at the silly things that we writers do like another writer. We also need each other to keep things real, in the good way and the reality-check way. Writers are your best ally to tell you when your baby needs work. They can also point you in the right direction when the time comes to choose a publishing path, and they can be your guideposts along the way.
But after all that, at the end of the day when you’re home alone and the computer is turned off, there’s one thing that you need to make it through the next small crisis: Confidence.
You can do this! You’ve set out on an amazing journey. You’re writing a book! Not because you have to. Not because there is some grade attached to it. Not because you will starve because if you don’t. You are doing this because you want to, because you love it, because it is your soul!
I once read a fascinating blog post by Kristen Lamb that asked the question “How likely are you to actually succeed as a writer?” Kristen’s answer is that if you stick to it and see thing through to the bitter end, then actually you are very likely to succeed. It’s one of the most inspirational posts I’ve ever read.
Great! So how do you stick it out? You have to have confidence. Believe in yourself. You are a writer. You can do this.
Having confidence in yourself does not mean that you skip blindly down the primrose path believing that every word that spills from your fingertips is genius. That will land you in a world of hurt more often than not. No, having confidence is all about reminding yourself that you have started to climb a mountain that WILL be climbed.
You will learn. That’s for certain. If you don’t make your NaNo goal this year you will still have learned something. Learning whatever that thing is will help you go further next time. If you do meet your NaNo goal, fantastic! If you can meet that goal then you can meet other goals. You can finish the book. You can write the sequel. You can edit the book and make it into something that will turn heads.
Every step of the way on a writer’s journey there is something to be confident about. You can be confident that the more you write – and the more you read – the better your writing will become. You can be confident that the novel you write next year will be better than this one. You can be confident that someone will love your story … and that someone won’t. That person who doesn’t like your story will teach you something that can help you to make the next story even better. Be confident in that.
Okay, so I’ll confess that part of this pep-talk is designed to boost my own confidence. Because let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how confident you were yesterday, some days you lose hope. Some days it doesn’t matter how much you’ve accomplished or how hard you’ve worked, someone leaves you a bad review or your numbers fall or you watch TV instead of focusing on writing and boom, your confidence is shot.
Yep, it happens. But it’s also temporary. You can be confident that the sun will rise again, your learning process will continue, and you will once again experience the joy that only writers can know: the knowledge that you’ve just written something good.
So keep up the good work, all you NaNos! You can do this!