If you want to be good at something, you have to practice. Everyone knows that. You also have to not be afraid of going out there and falling flat on your face. You have to be willing to put it out there no matter the consequences. I’m not going to talk to you about practice. I’m going to talk about putting it out there.
I participated in (and won!) NaNoWriMo in November of 2012, and it taught me a lot about writing. Maybe the most important lesson I learned is that if you want to be a writer, you have to put it out there. Anyone who has played sports, done theater or otherwise performed in any fashion knows all about that feeling. I was in band in high school and college and had my share of solos (including solos on a football field in front of thousands of people) so I am familiar with the feeling. I don’t know why it never occurred to me (consciously) that getting over the same fear is essential if you want to be a writer.
I haven’t let anyone read my novel yet (not entirely true; my wife read a sample page) but even telling people you are writing a novel is a vulnerable thing to do. It is easy to imagine people dismissing your efforts as a flight of fancy. As someone (I can’t remember who) said to me, “anyone who is halfway intelligent and likes to read says to themselves at some point in their life, ‘I am going to write a novel.'” To the credit of all of my friends and family, everyone was and continues to be very supportive of me and this current project.
I think experiencing that vulnerability is a warm-up for when you actually have people read what you wrote. Several of my local fellow NaNo’ers published their works-in-progress online as they were writing. I thought that took tremendous courage and could never dream of letting anyone read my “raw material.”
That being said, I know that time will come for me with respect to this novel (and others in the future). This blog is my warm-up; after all, if I can’t share random thoughts and musings with the internet, I have no business calling myself a writer.