When I first started writing in school, I was crippled by indecision. I’ve always been pretty good at beginnings, but I never finished a story because I was afraid I’d write the wrong ending. What if I write something that the readers don’t want? What if it’s not what the character wants? What if it’s not what I want?
I’ve wrestled with indecision in my writing for years. I watched other writers make choices for their characters with envy. How did they do it? But I also watched other writers stop writing stories because they, too, were crippled with indecision.
A few years ago, around the same time I started my first NaNoWriMo, I decided to overcome this fear of messing up my characters’ lives by writing them wrong. After all, I knew that my characters’ lives were up to me. But that was the problem. My inherent nature is as a follower, not a leader. But I knew, in this instance, as the writer, I had to be the leader.
That’s what sets this NaNo experience apart from my past three. I won all four because I’m so darn stubborn and competitive against myself, but I think I learned more about the craft of writing and myself as a writer this year than during any other.
The more you create your characters in your mind, the more they will fill the pages with their hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes.
When I really dove into what my main character feared and wanted the most, what she was running from and why, the more I learned about her. Not just her hair color, but the actions she would eventually take because of who she is.
This took years for me to develop, and I know I’m just starting to build this new skill for my writing arsenal. But it feels good to start chipping away at that fear, that writer indecision.
I realized that NaNoWriMo helps with fending off indecision because, frankly, you don’t have time to hem and haw over everything. You just write like the wind and pray it’s editable later on.
The thing is, we should write first drafts with abandon every month, not just during November.
So, today, I challenge you to write with abandon. Write like no one else will ever read that first draft. Write so honest and painful that you make yourself blush and cry. Then, only then, will you be qualified to share your characters’ stories with dignity.