October’s rains have faded into a cold gray November.
Every year I attempt a writing challenge, inspired by NaNoWriMo (Nation Novel Writing Month), but every year I fail. I have my reasons, excuses really. First there was school, then illness, then a demanding career. The truth is, I know I know I could do it, if I truly tried. But, like many writers- I lack the will power to follow through. Still, I give myself a new writing challenge every year anyway. Giving myself a November writing goal I will ultimately fail is as traditional as Thanksgiving dinner. This year, my challenge is simple- just work on my writing every day.
I haven’t finished a story in almost a year.
I wish this was an exaggeration, but it’s not. I half half a dozen half-written short stories still waiting for the final notes of their first draft. I also have at least 2 stories that I haven’t started editing yet. They are also about a year old. All these pieces just wait around in the cloud, hoping to be pulled down to the desk again. I know what I want what I want to write. I know the plots, the characters, the allegories, and motifs- but I cannot bring myself to commit my thoughts to the page. The mental block caused by stress, lack of confidence, and good’o’fashioned procrastination is too great. Somehow, I need to break through all, and take Nike’s advice: Just do it.
November is the perfect time to write.
I hibernate in winter. I hate the cold, but live in a state known for it’s snow. My refusal to go outside from November through March means that these months are prime writing times, assuming I can push through seasonal affective disorder (a mood disorder appropriately called SAD). It was during this season in 2018 that I wrote the personal essay that won the 2nd place Prose Prize in my University Magazine. It was also during this time last year that I finished my psychological horror story that now waits for it’s first round of editing. I know I can use this season of ice to create. I’ve done it before.
I know I’m overthinking it.
I get so wrapped up in the idea of writing that I can’t actually write. I have too many thoughts and ideas to get out, that my pen chokes on the ink. The words I write never seem good enough; they don’t seem right. What I want to convey escapes my abilities, so in fear of getting it wrong-I don’t write at all. “What’s the point” I think to myself. “No one will ever read it anyway.” So, I don’t bother to try. Logically, I understand that is a stupid thing to do. Its now a self-fulfilling prophecy, because no one can read a story that’s not written. So what if I don’t get it right the first time? No one does, that’s what drafts and editing are for! Still, I convince myself it’s a waste of time. I keep the words locked away in my mind, wheret hey can’t be seen, but where I can’t be hurt.
November is about getting words out.
It’s now or never: let the words out of my head and onto the page. Whether I end up editing or not doesn’t matter. Whether I publish pieces here, or submitting to magazines- that’s doesn’t matter either. I just need to finish the tales I started to tell. I need to release the valve and let the writing flow again. Maybe in time my fears will shrink and my confidence will grow. November, a time of frosty windows and icy roads, is the perfect time to reflect on my writing hangups. As the days become shorter and the dark lingers longer, I have more quiet time to create. With a blanket, tea, and my cat for company- maybe I can break my self-inflicted writer’s block curse.