The Man, the Muse and the Monster — or — OH CRAP! NaNoWriMo starts this weekend

November 1st. Write a novel in a month. Starts THIS Sunday.

Three days. Holy crap, if I don’t count today it’s… two days?

Oh, almighty muse: why did I agree to this?

Because you did it before.

Well yes, I completed Camp NaNoWriMo in July, a few days ahead of schedule. I finished the novel in question in September. I wrote a book! Yay me! But still, I mean, the inner critic in me — nngh — is saying things I don’t want to hear.

Oh you mean… like how you ‘pantsed’ your way to a complete book?

Well yes, I did. I ‘pantsed’ (AKA: wrote without much in the way of a plot, or idea of where I was going) pretty much from start to finish. Except for a few scribbled notes and vague ideas, when I sat down to write I had no idea what happened next in the book. It was liberating! Mostly. Except for that time I wrote myself into a complete corner. But I figured that out too! So ‘pantsing’ can totally work. You’ve just got to put in the time and make the words.

That’s the spirit. You know it can be done. Make the effort, everyday.

Yes! Indeed! And… well… that definitely works for the ‘pantsing’ crowd. I mean, if you are willing to just surrender to the Muse — not that I really believe in a ‘muse’, as such —

We’ll just overlook me, then.

Yes, we will. Look, it’s not that I don’t want to surrender to, er, you — it’s just that last time, I literally made up my mind to do Camp NaNoWriMo the day before it started. I had a dream the night before and I made that the start of the book! I had no idea that was going to happen.

You’re welcome. So what’s the problem?

Well this time I’ve been thinking about NaNoWriMo since September or so, since I finished the last book. I’ve been thinking about writing something based on an idea I had a few years ago. You know the one.

Oh, I know it all too well. It’s clearly no good. It’ll never work.

Alright, okay, I’ll get to you in a minute; the point is I want to get this idea down on paper, I want to commit it, I want to finish it. And NaNoWriMo should be a great way to do that!

So… again. What’s the problem? Just write it.

That is the problem! I can’t just write it, I can’t just sit down and pants my way through, I’ll have to plan, don’t you see, I’ll have to plan and plot and worldbuild and figure out how it works and characters and arglersesdwERHNW;EH[D F[dj sorry I just flipped out.

Heh heh heh.

See? This is my problem. HE is my problem.

Tell him to stuff it. You’ve got this.

Well you might have got this, I have no idea, I mean you’ve been stuffing more and more ideas into my head since I said I’d do this thing, I mean the stuff you came up with the on the bus to work today alone

Oh, don’t listen to him. I mean what does he know? Ideas are all well and good, but until you have a plot, a plan —
Maybe he doesn’t need a plan? Have you considered that?

If I might interrupt a minute yes, I realize I could go ‘pantsless’ — well sort of, anyway. I have some idea of what’s supposed to happen. I guess it’s more like… wearing shorts? A really skimpy bathing suit?

Thanks for that image.

Look, I have an idea where I want to go. I have a ‘north star’ or whatever. A guiding light. Now I just have to follow it! That’ll be okay, right?

As long as you do the words, it’ll get you somewhere. Which is better than nowhere!

Yes! Better than nowhere, that’s what I want to hear even if… well, it’s a little bit… er… lacking?

Indeed. Lacking! It’s pathetic, really. It’s less than you deserve.

Er, wouldn’t you generally be okay with me getting less than I deserve?

What? Oh, I suppose so, generally, yes. But also, don’t forget, you have a fear of success as well as failure! Just imagine, you’ve been carrying this idea around with you for years! Ever since that day in the bookshop when you were supposed to be paying attention to those children you were temporarily in charge of, and you absolutely didn’t!

Okay, we don’t need to bring that up, do we?

What if you make all this effort, you write this thing… and it’s not bad? What if it’s actually good? What if all the effort you make, the plans you scribble, the notes you write — what if you do all that and the end result is something that really doesn’t suck? Then what??


Sounds alright to me.

Er, yeah. It actually does.

But you’ll be a winner! A success! Doesn’t that terrify you? Doesn’t validation that doing what you’ve always believed you should do… scare you to death?

Well, yeah, it does. It scares the pants off me. (No pun intended.) It’s the unknown, it’s the real world, it’s living the dream. That’s really scary.

But necessary. To actually, really live.

I guess that’s… true.

Sure, if you decide to listen to him.

I listen to you way too much, pal.

Well, clearly, I have some work to do. Don’t worry. I’ll be back.

Oh, I know you will. But I’ll be ready.

This November, I’ll have a word count to show you. Every damn day.

All I’ve got to do is keep calm. And start writing.

If this sounded like the voices in your own head, feel free to recommend it so they stop shouting at each other for a second.

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