November 1 is breathing down our necks! Why does this matter? Well, there’s this thing I write about sometimes, called NaNoWriMo–short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s an annual event, in which many seemingly sane people commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November. And yes, many lawyers have participated!
I’m going to go all in for once, and commit to the whole 50,000 word deal. (AAAACCKKK!) You don’t have to do it that way. In the past, I’ve committed to simply writing daily for 20 minutes, or setting a much lower word target, like 500 words/day.
Lawyers tilt toward perfection, as some of you may (ahem) be aware. Writing 50,000 words in one month, while working and dealing with holidays, will obliterate your perfectionism. Personally, I think that is the best thing about NaNoWriMo. You have to embrace what Anne Lamott calls “writing a shitty first draft.”
That shitty first draft is usually the difference between actually getting something written, or not. Too often, lawyers and other writer-wannabes spend ridiculous amounts of time crafting gold-plated sentences, painfully and at great length. They struggle to eke out even 200 words/day.
When you let all those half-formed thoughts escape, and start somewhere in the middle where your story-brain is hanging out, words will come gushing out.
The firehose may not start the very first time you try this technique, because you might be terrified of changing your approach. Terror tends to paralyze us, or make us run like gazelles.
But if you tell your fear that it is simply part of the process, rather than taking it seriously and skittering away from it, your inner writer will eventually get brave and step up. Promise.
If you are interested in joining an online group, I’ve created a Facebook page for lawyers and other folks I know to come hang out and share their experiences, successes, and fears. There is one question to answer, simply to weed out bots and trolls.
We can talk about gimmicks to get over ourselves, where to find some *^)@ing inspiration when it’s mid-November, or whatever else is on your mind.
Come play! The only rules for this page are Vegas Rules, and Be Kind.
Hope to see you on November 1, or a few days after. Start when you’re able. But start.
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who worked for a decade in the publishing industry, mostly writing for legal newsletters and magazines. She wrote about half a novel over the course of a year, in 20-minute daily increments. If you’d like more individual attention than a group can provide, try a sample writing coaching session with Jennifer. Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule yours today!