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The Secret to Writing: Don’t Care About It

I had not planned on doing NaNoWriMothis year.

I did not plan a story.

I did not outline.

I did not even have a coherent idea.

I have not missed a day of writing. While I am about a day behind pace due to some emergencies last week last Friday, I was two days behind.

I have been averaging over 1500 words a day which is the highest this year and the 20 consecutive days of writing is my longest streak for the year.

I now have more words on this NaNoWriMo than all my prior attempts combined.
So, I have to ask myself, what is my secret?

For one, I have never, ever, in all my writing kept my internal censer off as reliably as I have with this story. I won’t say that I have never stopped in the middle of a sprint and thought, “this is crap,” but then I go back to writing.

I even tell myself it is crap as I go back.

Then I don’t care.

I think that is my secret. I don’t care about this story.

Okay, that’s not true. I think a better way to put it is I’m not invested in this story beyond the words I am putting on the page at the moment I’m putting them on the page. I haven’t spent time thinking about it. It isn’t a story that has been stewing in my conscious mind for years. It isn’t a type of story I’ve been dying to see written like the on again, off again Queen Takes Knight. It isn’t a homage to some of my favorite pure entertainment books like Riders South is.

It is what fell out of my brain when the last fiction I finished before NaNoWriMo, an early 80s Pocket Books Star Trek novel, ran into a Dungeons & Dragons setting, and the two teamed up to watch the last scene of the original Planet of the Apes.

In other words, it is one of those random crap ideas your subconscious wants to play with. And mine is having thirty-thousand and five words of fun with it over the past 20 days.

I did not get three stories finished for the Bradbury Challenge which was a Groundhog Day Goal. If anything, I was stuck in the door. I think the problem was I ignored the point of the challenge, no one can write 52 bad stories in a row and gave a damn about each one.

The idea of the challenge is to not give a damn about any of them so you can get them written. That is the secret to getting those legendary first million words written. Those first million words of crap that serve as the apprenticeship of a serious writer.

One unstated goal is to get to thirty-two hundred words a day of writing. Why thirty-two hundred? Because one million divided by three hundred and thirteen and rounded to the nearest hundred is thirty-two hundred. Write daily except the Sabbath at that rate, and you finish your apprenticeship in a year. Write seven days a week, and you have some margin for blog posts and other items.

But you can’t give a damn about them. Once you are done and set out to clean the word up and decide if the result belongs in the submissions pile for magazines and anthologies if they are a short story, or on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and other indie vendors then you can give a damn.

But in the moment the secret is to not give a damn.

It appears for me, right now, not giving a damn means not thinking about it until you put the first word on the page and then only thinking about the next word or ten.

Sarah Hoyt talked about writing a short story every Saturday. My response when I read that was, “But what about us mere mortals.” Now my response is, “Okay, on Saturday, December 1, I am going to start a short story. On Sunday, December 2 I will have a finished short story. Until then I’m not going to think about what is in it.”

Because the secret is to not give a damn what is in it until it starts going in.

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One Comment

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