This year will be my twelfth time participating in NaNoWriMo, an annual event where writers bang out a 50,000 word novel. I love it because I’ve learned over the years that when I have permission to write badly, I actually write, instead of listening to the Jerkbrain tell me how much my writing sucks.
And the final product? Not perfect — first drafts rarely are — but it turns out that when I get out of my own way, and stop letting the Jerkbrain rule the show, I can write a decent novel. (Then why haven’t I published any, for fame and fortune? That’s a whole ‘nother issue. Take it up with the Jerkbrain.)
See, Jerkbrain? I can write!
That’s nice, says the Jerkbrain. But you can only write with this absurd scaffolding. You have to trick yourself into writing with word wars and other foolishness. Â
On the one hand, so? Writers throughout history have done more ridiculous things than NaNoWriMo to get their novels written; who cares how it happens? Suck on it, Jerkbrain! I see what you’re doing.
On the other hand, the Jerkbrain is not entirely wrong. Jerkbrains usually do have a tiny kernel of truth in them. The trick is to find that kernel without getting caught up in the rest of the message.Â In this case, I think the Jerkbrain is pointing out that NaNo is hard. It’s true that I can type my 1667 words in 30 or 40 minutes — but it takes a hell of a lot of effort to psych myself up for the effort. It’s exhausting — much harder than the actual writing. It takes so much work to get that point of gleeful freedom.
I want to drop the story that I can only write when I whip myself into a frenzy.
I want to drop the story that I can only write after four hours of screwing around on the internet.
I want to drop the story that I can only write in a rush, with a manic glint in my eye.
I want to drop the story that I need drama and pressure to force the words out.
I want to find flow.
I want to find steadiness.
I want to just show up and write the damn story, instead of being caught up in the stories in my head about why I can’t.
My best tool to make this happen? The Dance of Shiva. This year, I’m going to consciously and deliberately use the Dance of Shiva to help me write my novel. It will help me ease into flow more quickly, help me find solutions to problems of plot or character, and turn the Jerkbrain down to a whisper.
I’m going to practice right before each writing session, and see what spirals out onto the page. I’ve used the Dance of Shiva for remarkable progress in other areas of my life; now it’s time to use it to fill my November with ease and delight.
I’m also teaching a set of Dance of Shiva classes this November — every Saturday from 2-4 mountain time. We’ll dance for an hour, and once our brains are fired up and our jerkbrains are quieted down, we’ll write for another hour. If that sounds awesome to you, check out all the details.
Is it crazy to teach a 4-part class in the middle of November, when I should be writing my novel? Maybe. But I know how incredibly useful the Dance of Shiva is, so I’m positive that teaching this class will only help me.
Will it help you, too?