10 Days to NaNoWriMo: You Have Permission

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10 Days to NaNoWriMo: You Have Permission

T-Minus Ten Days

In these final days of October, when NaNoWriMo is still just a vague itch, an aspirational notion, a secret should I?, it can be easy to dismiss your own ambitions. To treat the idea of drafting a novel as a fool’s errand, a lark, a waste of time. A self-indulgence, a self-delusion, a set-up for certain failure. To convince yourself you have nothing to say, that no one wants to read your story, that it is hubris to think that you can be a real writer.

Let me take this weight off your mind: 

You have permission.

This permission is a blank check. Write it for whatever amount you’re going to need to carry you through the month of November. Use this permission to justify whatever it is you need to put your self-doubts to rest. To allow yourself to take the work seriously. To sin boldly. To carve out a daily time in which to do the work and only the work. To forgive yourself for not producing brilliance the first time out. (None of us do.) To allow yourself the leeway to come back to it after the month of white-heat writing is done. 

I am imbued with no authority to grant this permission save that which you give me, but I can testify to you as someone who has edited novels, sold novels, written novels, and revised novels, that this is how it gets done. By ignoring the voices in your head questioning your work, your worth, your sanity; by applying butt to chair and pen to paper (or finger to keyboard); by sticking to it until something is done. 

And to draft an entire novel in a single month, with a beginning, middle, and end; in sentences and scenes and chapters; 60,000 words or more arranged together in a meaningful way? Contemplation of such a feat is daunting. The voices in your head will be a chorus. 

Ignore them. You have permission to do this. Now get to work.

I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all.

—E.B. White

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