It’s NaNoWriMo. Each November, writers embark on “National Novel Writing Month” with the goal being to crank out 50,000 words during the month. That’s a lot.

The bright side of this is one must turn off their internal editor because y’all don’t have time for self-editing on the fly. It’ll bog you down, frustrate you, and, perhaps worst of all, it’ll destroy your word count. It’s a nagging voice that wants to continually correct you, tell you it’s not good enough, tell you that your plot holes are too big to overcome in a rewrite.

Even if you’re a bonafide outliner like me, it often happens as you lay the words down on the page and navigate the details that something doesn’t quite mesh up. Or the scene tension you need to create necessitates some foreshadowing in a previous scene. Do you go back and add it? Do you forge ahead?

If you want to ever reach “the end,” then you make a note and you keep writing. Just keep writing. And if you have an image of Dory in your head, all the better.

Writing a novel is like having a large set of puzzle pieces thrown out on the floor in front of you. You have no image to work from, other than maybe you’ve been told the subject matter. It’s a herd of horses. It’s a tropical island. But on the floor, all you see are disconnected pieces of colors and shapes. Some are flipped over backward.

You match up a few. Maybe you see some with a flat side and you work on the frame. You end up with a few interior clumps. But then you leave gaps and spaces because nothing connects yet. You have small pieces of a beautiful image, however, the full picture still alludes you. Maybe you count the pieces are realize a few are missing, so you go in search for them.

You may have to rearrange the groupings when you realize where you thought they’d go was an error. They fit somewhere else. As you go, you develop a better and better idea what this final picture will look like. But it’s long, hard work.

The biggest mistake you can make is scooping up all the pieces and starting a new puzzle. The second biggest mistake you can make is walking away, thinking that somehow you’ll make progress if you wait for it.

You need to keep trying to fit the pieces together because, eventually, it will happen. It might not be the most beautiful picture you imagined in your mind, but it will be complete. And the practice of putting it together trains your brain to work faster the next time.

If you’re not a writer, how often do you stop yourself because you’re afraid of getting something wrong? Perfectionism that leads to procrastination? Give yourself some grace.

This month, I forge ahead. I write without fear.

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