The thing with writing is that, unless you're freakishly amazing all the time, you're not always going to be able to write well. Not every word you put on the page is going to be something you'll be proud of. Actually, a LOT of what you write is going to be really, really, really shit. Right now, that's how I feel about 15-20 thousand words of what I've written in the past thirteen days. So why do I keep going? Because if I don't accept the fact that sometimes I will write badly, then I will never have the chance to write well.
I have several friends who aren't participating in NaNoWriMo because they think the rules are stupid (Holmes, I'm looking at you). And that's okay too, because everyone writes their stories differently. Everyone has their own creative process. For some people, that means word-vomiting into Google Docs as fast as you can, including for NaNoWriMo, and for other people, that means staring at the computer screen for hours on end and only getting out a few carefully thought out and worded paragraphs at a time. Regardless of which approach you take, there are going to be days where you write shit, an days when you realise you're shitting gold. Sometimes it comes out somewhere in between and you know what you've got in front of you has potential. Even some of the worst stuff you write could have potential and that's the thing--being a good writer isn't about always writing flawlessly amazing words every single time and becoming a bestseller overnight. Being a good writer is about being able to identify what parts of your work are good, what parts are bad, and what parts are okay. It's about being able to identify where potential lies and bring that potential to the surface. It's not just about the first draft. It's about the editing process too. It's about redrafting. And sometimes it's about making a hard call and moving on to something else even though you've already put a lot of work into what you've already written.
Sometimes, it isn't about which approach you take (QUITE-WRITE-A-FIRST-DRAFT-HURRY vs staring-at-the-screen-and-being-pedantic-about-every-word-I-write). Sometimes it's about which approach your story wants to take. At the moment, my NaNoWriMo is my first attempt at novel-length literary fiction. Yes, yes, crucify me and tell me what a snotty bastard I am for temporarily turning my back on genre fiction. The thing is, my attempts at literary fiction in the past have used the process that does not work well with NaNoWriMo and at times I've stopped and wondered if trying to write this particular novel for NaNoWriMo was a bad idea. And maybe it was. Maybe this would have been way easier to sit down and nut out slowly. But I started something and now I'm going to finish it. And even though it's probably going to be one of the worse novel-length pieces I've ever written--what with it's inconsistent voice and inability to STAY literary and not slip into one genre or another--the fact of the matter is that at the end of the this project, I'll have the first draft of another novel, which I already think has potential, even if it's only in the story and not so much the way it's been written. At some point, maybe later in 2015 or 2016 when it's been put aside for a little while and I've worked on something else and I can return to it with fresh eyes, I'll return to this novel and see if the writing can be salvaged or if I need to write it all over again. And I'm okay with writing it all over again. I am a writer. It's okay to press delete. And it's okay to hit the backspace key. And it's okay to abandon a project completely and move on to something else. As long as I maintain that I am a writer and I don't give up on writing.
Writing badly is also important so that you can get it out of your system. It's more ideal to do this when you're NOT working on a big project that you're trying to take seriously, but beggars can't be choosers. Once the bad writing is out and on the page, what else is to follow but the okay writing and the good writing? And that's why it's important that we allow ourselves to write badly sometimes. And I don't mean to encourage anyone to be lazy in the way they write and then use this as a justification. I'm just saying: it's okay.
So even though I hate most of what I've written so far and I'm now halfway to the NaNoWriMo word goal, I'm going to keep going, because I think I've gotten the worst of it out of my system and things are starting to perk up a little now. And whatever I wrote awfully at the start is something I can return to later and write all over again. Because that's what I do. I am a writer.
How badly can you write?