I’ve long been shy about the way I actually go about doing things behind the scenes. Like a stage magician, I didn’t want people to see how I pulled things off. I didn’t want others to see my bank book or how I handle my money (actually, “mishandle” would be a more apt word). I was embarrassed for others to see how I go about writing poetry and prose. This hasn’t really helped me in personal development (and has gotten me into trouble when it comes to my finances), while my openness about my mental health and struggles with insecurity has gotten me a lot of thanks and encouragement. There’s clearly a lesson to be learned here.
Last month, I wrote about taking another stab at the novel I started (and then had to abandon) for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I was planning on doing this in January. It hit me yesterday that January was really, really close and I didn’t feel at all ready to start writing. I don’t mean I was feeling cold feet. I mean I didn’t feel like I had any kind of handle on the characters (or even had enough characters for the story I want to tell) or any kind of handle on the setting. I’m much more of a pantser than a plotter, so I’m very comfortable making up a story as I go. But I didn’t even have a solid base to start with the mad improvising of a novel.
Meanwhile, Austin Kleon, author of the seminal Steal Like an Artist, has been posting about his upcoming follow-up, Show Your Work, talking about not just producing art, but sharing your process with the world. His post “Something Small, Every Day” struck a chord with me, and I started thinking about what small pieces of writing I could post to my blog every day.
And then I tweeted yesterday about not feeling ready to start my novel while also not wanting to lose my momentum. A friend suggested I use January as a month to do prep and then start writing the novel in February. “Hey,” I said, “I could do that, writing character sketches, setting sketches, bits of dialogue, plot notes…and I could post something every day on my blog.” Something small, every day. Showing my work.
I find the idea exciting as hell. And terrifying as hell. Which tells me that it’s the right thing to do. The point of this year’s NaNoWriMo, which I didn’t accomplish, wasn’t starting and finishing a novel, it was to build the habit of writing every damn day. And I want 2014 to be about pushing my own boundaries more, getting into more adventures. This seems like a good way to start that.
Do I feel ready to share my prep, my notes, the inner workings of my head with the world? Fuck no! But I’m going to do it anyway.
*pops a Xanax*
*turns on jetpack*
*rockets off into the sky*