You: I have another fear: the fear I'm not good enough.
Me: Well, so what? What the Sam Hell does 'good enough' even mean, anyway?
You: Good enough to get published. Or publish myself. Or be read. OR TO EVEN EXIST AT ALL.
Me: This is a first draft. Calm down, Twitchy McGee. May I suggest you care less about your work? You're not saving babies, okay? And besides, good enough is a made-up metric. It's not like there exists some kind of checklist. You're not the one to judge. The audience will judge. And the only way they get to judge is if you're willing to write this first draft and then edit the unmerciful sin out of it until it's as good as you can possibly make it. You need to give them that chance, and that means letting go of this absurd horsepoop notion of 'good enough'
instead grab hold of a far stronger and more applicable one: are you determined enough?
Are you stubborn-as-a-2-year-old enough?
That's the metric. That's your measure.
You: Okay. Okay! I can maybe do this. Do I need to write to specific market?
Me: The only market that matters is you. This is your book. Barf your heart onto the page.
Me: It is. But it's worth doing just the same.
Listen: put one word after the other.
Approximately 2000 of these a day.
Throw in periods and commas where appropriate. Make sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into chapters.
Put characters on the page and in those chapters that interest you.
Have them do things that scare you and delight you in equal measure. Commit them to plots and ideas that compel you and that have no easy answers.
You're the first audience. Entertain yourself. Challenge yourself. Let the story lead. Let your own desires for the story lead.
Forget what anybody else thinks right now. This isn't for them. This is for you. This is a test. This is the dig in the dirt of novel-writing. This is mud and electric shocks and rabid badgers and Sarlacc pits and homeless doomsday preppers with knives made of glass and electrical tape --
You: You've never run the Tough Mudder, have you?
Me: No, but I'm can be one.
Listen: anybody can be a writer. No writer wants to admit that -- because we want to feel like special But writing is a mechanical act. It's just plonking words down onto a page.
Storyteller is more than mechanical -- that's where the art really lives, in the storytelling, but even there, storytelling is an act that's twisted around our DNA. Everybody tells stories. We tell stories about that guy we saw at the bank, about that car accident, that night at the High School Prom. Half our lives are remembered as and communicated via story. So this is just that: you utilizing the mechanical act of writing to impart the intuitive act of storytelling.
You: You make it sound so simple.
Me: It isn't. And it is. And then it isn't again.
But that's not the point of National Novel Writing Month. But for now: it's the act of doing. This is you stomping your footprints across the artistic landscape.
You: I'M SO NOT READY, I AM SCARED
Me: No, you're not. You are never really ready. Sometimes I think I am. Sometimes I realize I'm not. And it doesn't matter. Because being really truly ready would ruin the fun. You know how you get ready? How you get good enough? By doing exactly this. By writing. By finishing. By editing. And by going back and doing it all again and again.
You: I'm going to do this.
Me: Yes, you are.
You: I'm going to write a book.
Me: And it will be one of the coolest, weirdest things you've ever done.
You: Awesome. I'm gonna go write now.
DO IT!! Just write- write today, write tomorrow, keep writing.