Must. Stop. The Voices. Nanowrimo internal dialog

There are anti-nanowrimo voices in my head.

Their chattering is a consistent and slightly ominous low murmur until I sit down to write. When I sit down at the computer with intentions to “crank” out however many words I’ve fallen behind, the volume of their commentary rises from a whisper to a ruckus to a veritable keening.

It’s not pretty.

There are three conversations in my head: one that’s designed to distract me from the task at hand; one that’s hell-bent on convincing me that I have no business writing anything, let alone a novel; and a third one that wants to edit, edit, edit until the proverbial cows come home.

So, while I’m trying to craft a single, salvageable sentence, my lovely and charming mind is doing this:

Distraction Mind:

  • Maybe I should double-check and make sure that Carbonite is actually backing up my Scrivener files. Does it do that automatically? Perhaps there’s a help file I should check or a help desk I can call.
  • Maybe I should visit the Nano forums. That’s half the fun, right? Why do Nano if not for the camaraderie?
  • I should really find a new conditioner. This one leaves my hair all limp and tangled.
  • My Q3 quarterly taxes are overdue.
  • Are my favorite jeans clean?
  • I need a break. I’m going to Facebook for some LOL cats.
  • If I don’t email that client back, she’s going to be pissed …
  • I’m hungry. I can’t write on an empty stomach – maybe just a spot of toast and tea …
  • I should start my Christmas shopping soon.
  • The cat’s shaking her head. I should clean her ears.
  • I wonder if I should work on that other story …

Inner Critic:

  • You are so far behind. You’ll never make it. May as well give up now.
  • These other people are Real Writers. You’re a fraud. I bet they’re all tons better than you.
  • You can’t tell this story. Are you kidding? You can’t even tell a simple joke!
  • This is all a waste of time.
  • You’ll never get published.
  • That thing you just wrote? It makes NO SENSE. No one would ever believe that. Stupid. Rubbish.
  • Do you even KNOW who your character is? I didn’t think so. Hack.
  • What made you think you should write anyway? This is probably all a big mistake. Definitely.
  • Why am I doing this again?
  • It doesn’t really matter if I win or lose … won’t make a difference either way.
  • You’re vain. SO much going on in the world today and all you care about is writing a crappy book? Lame.

Eternal Editor:

  • If today is the 14th, that’s 14 days times 1,667 words per day = 23,338 words … so, if I’ve only written 12, 342 that means I’m 10,996 behind … which means … oh, crap.
  • Spellcheck will only take a minute …
  • Where’s my thesaurus?
  • What’s the name for those things that girl put in my drink … is it a “tincture?” Where can I look that up? Maybe I should be a bartender.
  • I should set up a reference chart and some character profile sheets and make a map and draw the interior …
  • Should that be a comma, or a semi-colon?
  • Does this make any sense in terms of story structure?

… you get the idea.

I’ve lost my Nanowrimo Zen. I need to get back to beginner mind. I need to wipe the slate clean, surf the waves of blissful ignorance, and just write – damn it!

My first Nano back in 2009 was a wild ride of I-don’t-care-what-this-is. I had no plot and no problem writing anything and everything – just to get the words down. This year, I’m much more hung up on wanting something that I can actually turn into a viable manuscript. I believe in the idea and don’t want to muck it up. Unfortunately, that fear is paralyzing me and sucking all the fun out of my Nano experience. I need to step away from my expectations and get back to being in the moment and not trying to ensure any particular outcome.

If you’re doing Nano, how are you faring? Are you having any of these conversations in your head? How are you getting your internal voices to shut the hell up so you can get back to work? Are you ahead of the Nano schedule? Behind? Thinking about giving up? What’s happening in your world?

Image Credit: Kaptain Kobold