While I was in school I had a teacher who was extremely influential on how I see the art that I create, any art that I put out in the world. I only had her for about three or four weeks at the end of a semester, thanks to some administrative shuffling that happened unexpectedly, but a lot of what she said stayed with me. One of the most important things she said to us was something she learned late in undergrad:
“You will always hit a point with every project where it looks awful. I would get to the point where every stroke looked wrong, and I felt like everything that I added was making it worse, so I would scrap my whole project and start over. I learned that you have to push through the part where it looks terrible so that you can get to the end. If you keep stopping you end up with a bunch of half-started projects and no end product. Its a lot easier to fix something that doesn’t look quite right than it is to start over from the beginning.”
I think that this is one of the most important things about NaNoWriMo. It gets us past the feeling that everything we put on the page has to be perfect. There are days where the words flow perfectly, like wine from your lips or rather from the bottle that you wish you had on day 28 of NaNo, but there are days when you stare at the blinking cursor and don’t feel worthy to write your own name, because somehow that’s not going to fit the scene correctly. NaNoWriMo gets us past the idea that we have to create perfection on the first try, and asks us to just create. Let’s be honest, what I end up with at the end of NaNo is not going to be a polished, ready for the editors submissions manuscript. But it will be something that could one day be ready for publication. It is a first step.
NaNoWrimo not only gets us past the idea of needing perfection, it gives us license to just put words down, to just create for the sake of creation. This is why I think NaNo is important. As artists we get caught up in what will be said about what we create, whether we are afraid of the criticism of family, friends, or of professional critics. NaNoWriMo is an exercise in strings free creation.
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