What’s this transformation that I was talking about yesterday? I was talking about how the drive to write 50,000 words in a month can help you train yourself to be a writer. The only way that I know for a person to write 1667 words a day is to turn off your inner editor. Initially, that sounds like a bad thing. It’s not, at least not for me. Editing is a large part of writing but if you don’t have anything to edit, you’re really in trouble.
Here’s how it works. I just wrote that sentence. Under normal writing conditions, I might pause and decide that I should be writing about the creative process, maybe say “You need to understand the creative process.” My inner editor is obviously still on. Instead of even considering deleting, “Here’s how it works.” I leave it in and write the next sentence that I thought of, “You need to understand the creative process.” You never go back and change what you’ve already written.
The first year I did end up with a fair amount of garbage in my text but it’s wonderful how well it works and how clean the text is when you’re into the flow of your story. This is what I usually call “opening the door” in my creative writing classes. The acting of “opening the door” is letting your creative side take over. I do think that learning how to make this happen more quickly is an essential habit for any writer unless you’re willing to agonize over a blank page every time you sit down to write. The best way I know to make that process less painful is to write everyday and Nanowrimo makes you at least think about sitting down at your computer every day or jotting down notes when you’re sitting in some boring meeting at work.
You’ll see allusions to “opening the door” in almost any good book on writing. In her bestseller Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about “writing without reining myself in.” At some point in your writing journey, you may want to try Jean McGarry’s way of writing. She likes to have the whole story in her head before she starts. She “opens the door” in her mind and translates the story into writing after she knows exactly what’s going to happen. I don’t know anyone else who writes that way. But I do know dozens of fellow writers who have only written a few stories because they’re obsessed with getting every work exactly right. That’s a good goal during revision and a real show-stopper for writing a draft. For Nanowrimo, turning off your inner editor is essential if you’re going to win.