The answer is yes. Unbelievably, soul-crushingly hard.
Last year, I wrote my first complete book in about 10 months. A year later, I am certain the book needs extensive revision and does not make sense to publish now (my first book: a memoir? At age 25? Sami, you delusional, egotistical fool!). All the same, just 10 days ago, I still believed in my incredible abilities to write quickly and make it to the finish line.
That has hilariously all changed, due to the “borderline unsustainable”* schedule required to win National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. 1,667 words a day x 30 days = 50,000 words = screw my social life. I can write 750 words in 25 minutes! I reassured myself. Only if these 750 words are a stream-of-conscious diary entry! I strategically ignored myself.
Today I am supposed to write 2,905 words. Due to my poor discipline, I am 1,238 words behind my schedule. Therefore, I am procrastinating with this blog post. Even my blog post is difficult, because 10 days of NaNo has changed me.
My inner editor and my inner drafter used to have a fairly loving, symbiotic relationship. Drafter would drag her feet just enough (a.k.a. constantly) to inspire Editor to soften her voice and offer timely, helpful feedback, and the occasional cheerleading. Now, Drafter is forced by the whip of word-count demands to write alone, desperately, sometimes with spelling errors (!). Editor does not take kindly to being silenced, so she lives in the margins of the Google Doc I use to write, leaving behind increasingly abusive comments and rows of yellow highlight.
Inner Editor would like to point out the timestamps are completely inaccurate and Google Docs should be ashamed of itself.
Before NaNoWriMo, I liked my first “drafts” of scenes enough to often include them nearly verbatim in the final script. Now I hate them. I hate them all, I’m a terrible writer, and I should give up forever. Except…
Into week two, I feel myself approaching a membrane in my consciousness. Where, before, I saw the written word a narrow bridge for the tongueless voices of my thoughts to reach the ears of others, I now see a waterfall to burst a dam. Perhaps I will now, finally, immediately think in words (odd writer that I am, my natural state is to think in pictures and vague emotions, and the words only come after warming and thinning like syrup over flame). Perhaps I will short-circuit the connection between mind and keyboard.
Or, at least, I’ll train myself to draft like rabbits breeding and, at the end, my trigger-happy editor will have a maniacal slaughter.
*words of Kelly Lagor
I think sometimes the best thing to do is just getting everything on paper, even if it’s awful, and then deal with making it readable later. Sometimes I find that when I’ve spent a lot of time on a scene or section the first time round, I don’t realise that, although the scene itself might be well written, it doesn’t actually fit with my narrative or it’s unnecessary or whatever. And then I’m too attached to it to change it. So sometimes bad writing is really important because it opens the door for good writing to come in after. Keep powering through! You have all the time in the world to edit later – the important thing is just that you’re writing!