Writing without (self) judgement

I set a simple goal for NaNoWriMo 2017. Write 2,000 words every day.

Then I made a strict no-delete policy for myself. This means that sometimes I end up saying the same thing three different ways, just because each sentence has led me a little closer to the actual thing I want to say. Everything in me wants to go back and delete those first two sentences, pretending that I arrived at the last one all on my own. But no. I’m letting the shitty things stay.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about writing without an outline or synopsis or even (honestly) the slightest clue where my story is going to end up. But so far, I love it.

Choosing to judge myself on quantity, not quality, has been a huge game changer. This is possibly the first time I’ve ever been able to truly shut off my inner editor and just let the words spill onto the page. I’m not worrying about plot, characters, point of view – nothing. I’m just writing. And yes, I’m cringing at the idea of re-reading these sentences that I’m allowing to spill off my fingers, uncensored. But this process is also incredibly freeing.

It’s allowed me to interact with my characters. It’s allowed me to experiment with point of view, narrative style, setting, and dialogue.

Yes, this is gonna be a nightmare to edit. But I’m not thinking about that right now. My goal isn’t to have a polished masterpiece: my goal is to have words on the page. So far, I’m achieving that goal, and I’m pretty darn happy.

I’m learning more about myself and my writing style every day. I’ve always been a voracious reader. Books had the words I never seemed to be able to find for myself. Books could explain things to me that I didn’t know how to articulate. Books could take me places I had never been. Books could prepare me for situations I hadn’t encountered. From the earliest age, I saw books (and by extension, words) as things to be worshiped.

But writing – as I also learned from a young age, trying to mimic my favorite authors by putting words down on the page – is not something to be worshiped. It’s not mystical or spiritual. I (still) have to resist the tendency to hold my own work up to impossibly high near-spiritual standards. It’s hard. It’s hard for me to write a sentence without stopping and re-reading and deleting and re-writing and deleting again, trying to figure out how someone else would perceive this sentence, and finally deciding that the sentence isn’t good enough, and erasing it until my word count is 0.

Turns out, there’s no such thing as the perfect sentence. There’s just a lot of imperfect sentences strung together in an attempt to get closer to something true, something meaningful.

So that’s what I’ve learned on Week 1 of NaNoWriMo. Write. Write without judgment.

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10 thoughts on “Writing without (self) judgement”

  1. I’ve also noticed that not having an outline has me interacting with my characters a lot more. I have more conversations with them when I’m writing – it’s so interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good advice for yourself! This is how I approach NaNoWriMo — I’d really like to delete my last 1400 words, but I can edit AFTER I flesh out the story. I look at the as a rough first draft. Happy writing!!

    Liked by 1 person

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