Yesterday, I mentioned how much fun NaNoWriMo is and today as I was bouncing around the web doing some research on Neo-Paganism, I happened to run into a blog containing a long post on how in encouraging everyone to be creative, projects like NaNoWriMo don’t take the craft of writing seriously and devalue the art by telling everyone they can write. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around this line of elitist, almost mean spirited logic.
Can you write a brilliant novel in a month with no editing? Probably not, but that’s not the point. The point is to free your spirit and allow yourself to simply create something. You’d think that creativity would come easily. The ideas are all there in our own heads, so it’s just a matter of pulling them out and shaping them into an artistically pleasing form. The thing is that so many of us (and I know this to be true of writers who are really talented – far more talented than I) have things that get in the way of that. Some of us are overly self-critical. Some of us are afraid of how our work will be received. Some of us fear we don’t have interesting ideas. Some of us fear we’re not technically perfect. Some of us don’t have self-discipline. Some of us become completely paralyzed in the face of these things. We become like deer in headlights, and then don’t write at all. Nano says, “Don’t worry about these things, there will be time for editing and perfecting later. For now, just CREATE something!” And that is freeing. It is freeing when we give ourselves permission to make mistakes, to be silly, to write volumes of pages that may or may not be thrown away in the end, but that are absolutely necessary to get to that one paragraph of beautiful prose that suddenly opens the door to the creation of an artwork – or maybe just a trashy novel about a zombie slaying health inspector. But, hey, if zombie slaying health inspectors are what make your heart sing, who am I to tell you no?
Here is the thing about writing and about life: Your happiness is not my happiness. Your way to happiness may not be my way. None of that matters. What matters is that we are happy, that we create, that we open the door to tap into that part of ourselves. Today’s zombie-slayer might be tomorrow’s author of a profoundly beautiful poem on the nature of life and death. You never know.
In the words of the great Kurt Vonnegut:
Practicing and art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.