You’re Allowed to Suck

Happy Halloween all! Or, as many of us might think of it, NaNoWriMo Eve!

At this point I have to accept that I’ve done everything I can do. While my second draft of my outline is not yet complete, is full of holes and scene sequences that drag, the time has come to actually start the process. For better or worse.

Part of me is glad, because I definitely can see myself revising the outline until it has lost all meaning without ever actually doing the writing were it not for the pressure of NaNo. But, the part of me that wants perfection is screaming that I’m not ready, that anything born of this outline, this story, this idea is going to be completely dreadful, and why should I even bother trying if the end result is just a shitty book?

The thing I have to keep reminding myself, the thing I keep seeking out in advice columns, podcasts, pearls of wisdom on Twitter, the NaNo forums or elsewhere is… it’s okay to suck.

The first draft, ostensibly what most NaNoWriMo participants will be penning during November, is allowed to be awful. It’s not just permissible for it to be full of plot holes, extraneous fluff, and duller than dirt characters, it’s kind of… expected.

Personally, I can’t be told this enough. For me, the worst feeling in the world is being in the middle of a draft and realizing how terrible it is. In the past, it has been so easy to let that disappointment swallow up the creative motivation, of succumbing to that inner voice that is always asking, “What’s the point?”

So this time around, I’m doing everything I can to be mentally prepared.

It’s okay if I don’t have the best words. It’s okay if my sentence structure is sometimes a little wonky. It’s okay if I go way overboard on the adverbs. It’s okay if my chapter breaks feel awkward.

It’s okay if there are boring parts, and it’s okay if there are sections that are way too busy.

It’s okay if a character is under utilized. It’s okay if another one’s motivations don’t make perfect sense yet.

Say it with me everyone:

It’s okay for the first draft to suck.

The whole purpose of this month is to get it done.

As Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo said, “You can edit a terrible book into a great book, but you can’t edit a blank page into anything but a blank page.”

Good luck everyone!

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