This blog post I shared on my Facebook page is a pretty accurate depiction of how I felt about writing when I first heard about NaNoWriMo. What it comes down to is this: writing is putting one foot in front of the other (or writing one word at a time). Good writing is a combination of talent and a whole lot of hard work.
Yeah, sure, sometimes the hard work pays and sometimes it doesn't, but the key is, without the work, the ideas are just figments in your head. No one can know if your ideas are any good until you write them. And you have to write for yourself first. If you don't want to read what you write, then who else will?
Last year, I did my own version of NaNoWriMo by writing a fanfiction. I've mentioned this in the past. This year, I'm officially participating in NaNo and while I kicked butt in the first 10 days, writing 34,003 words in that time on This Year's Love (Book #4 in the Ward Sisters Series), I have been neglecting it lately. Why? Well, I've had other writing projects that have taken precedence. But I'm writing, and that's what matters. I still anticipate finishing NaNo on time, and even if I don't, my book is part of a series and will most certainly be completed soon enough. Truthfully, I'm not sure if making the goal will actually finish my book anyway, but I can knock out 16k words before November 30th.
Regardless, in this past year, my writing has changed dramatically. The biggest lessons I've learned over the past year?
1) Write for yourself
2) Write every day, even if you think it's crap, even if your muse isn't speaking to you, even if the only thing you write is a blog post, an email or a plot outline.
3) Know you'll need to edit. Expect to murder your darling, and to maybe even reassemble the body parts into something you hadn't imagined, to make it worth reading. You are Frankenstein and your work is the monster. Make it pretty. It's going to be hard work.
4) Realize that criticism will happen. Always. There is not a writer out there whom every single person loves. Some people even hate writers who are revered by most, like Shakespeare.
5) Keep going. Whether it's one word at a time, one paragraph at a time, one chapter at a time, one novel at a time, one series at a time, KEEP GOING. You only get better when you write.
Writing has been the biggest blessing in my life outside my children and family. It fills my soul in a way that very little else does. Discovering that fact was such a gift. If you think you want to write, stop talking about it and just DO it. That's what NaNoWriMo is all about. You don't have to do it officially, you don't have to segregate yourself to the month of November. Honor the intent of the project and you'll reap its rewards. Trust me. I know from personal experience.