I recently came across a quote that made me stop and think.
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
― Ray Bradbury
Okay, so you all know that I’m crazy about Ray Bradbury’s writing, but I’m not going to encourage drinking yourself into a good story. Not literally, anyway. But his words are genius. Serious genius.
This quote made me think about why NaNoWriMo is such a great tool for writers.
During NaNoWriMo, I challenged myself to write double the amount of words as the challenge asked, and what came of that is pretty much what Bradbury is talking about. I was sucked into my story so deeply that I wouldn’t have been able to get out even if I wanted to. It was like every book and TV show and movie out there, my common and deadly distractions, just melted away to make way for the 100,000 words I had in mind. That’s what you need to get the good writing out.
Honestly, I don’t really remember actually learning anything in school during the month of November, but I must have. You know, at some point. Probably.
I don’t remember what I blogged about either. And yet I blogged every single week day of that month.
But the point is that I was so involved in my work that I didn’t get distracted. To the point that I never actually stopped thinking about my story. Ever. Sure, maybe I was writing papers and studying for tests, but while I was doing that, I was still writing. I was still thinking about the scene I wrote last night or the one that was trying to get out of my head at that moment.
That’s what you need to get to really get those words out. The ones that hold magic in the palms of their hands and paint pictures that stay in the back of readers’ heads even when they are doing other things. Even when they should be thinking about school or work. Those are the words we all want to find.
I know you are coming to me for advice. You want to know how to find the inspiration and the ideas and you want answers. But writing is different for everybody. I can’t tell you where to find that one thing that will inspire you. I can’t hand you the headphones with the song that will change your life. I can’t point in the direction of the poem that will move you to tears. That’s something you’re going to have to do.
But that’s what makes the journey of writing that much better!
I give NaNoWriMo a lot of credit for my writing because it was amazing to get to interact with other writers and know that we were all in the same boat. That we were all rooting for each other. It deserves a lot of credit.
But at the same time, I was super excited and into the story because I had been planning it for weeks and months before. I had had the idea in my mind for a little over a year and then it clicked and I wrote it down. And then the more I plotted and outlined, the more excited I got. That’s how I got the inspiration. I made myself wait until November first to write and when I finally got there, I was ready.
And now that I look back at what I’ve written, I’m thinking, “Dang. I wrote that?” It might not be something that is impressive to a lot of people, and it may need a lot of editing, but I’m proud of it. The words came so fast that I didn’t think before typing. Do you know how awesome that feels?
I agree with Bradbury. Reality is the one thing that can really ruin the writer-high. Now that I’m not actively writing the story (editing, ugh), I’m looking back with a curled lip and my fingers hover over the backspace key. I bet you I’ve thought the words, “What was I thinking?” at least a hundred times. A thousand. But I’m going to keep going because I know that it isn’t half as bad as my inner editor (who was caged up for a month and came out cranky and rude) is making it out to be.
Think about how bad it would have been if that inner editor came out of it’s lair during NaNoWriMo. One cruel or demeaning thought about what I was writing and then a domino effect would start. Confidence comes with ignoring those little voices that warn us not to jump off cliffs or go out at dark. Sure, this confidence can be dangerous, but it’ll get you one heck of a story.
My challenge for you is to find that way to get yourself going. To push out reality and just find the will to write. And the thing is that you can’t just go looking for it. Maybe you hear the song on the radio. Maybe you read the poem in a book. My favorite poem was actually on a test from the eighth grade. I’d never seen it before and I had to answer reading comprehension questions on it. And then I accidently memorized it and said it to myself a hundred times for the next couple months.
I love being a nerd.
Anyway, you need to let it come to you. But don’t just sit around in the dark and wait for it. You have to go after that inspiration and motivation and not let it get away. Okay, maybe that’s not the way to go for some people. Try living life a little, and it’ll eventually find you. Like magnets, maybe.
It’s worth it. I keep saying it because it is true. Don’t stop writing because what you are doing is worth it. Completely worth it. That song might inspire this novel and your novel might inspire someone to write a poem and then the chain keeps going. So don’t give up.
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!