Do you ever feel like a big fat failure? I know I sure as hell do. I spend most of my life convinced that I can’t do anything right.
This feeling affects most things I do, from working to having a successful relationship to writing. I don’t think there’s a particular reason I should feel this way; I’m not a significantly more terrible person than most people I know (but not significantly better, either). I make it to work on time every day, try hard to apologize when I know I’ve done someone wrong, and I don’t accidentally break an inordinate number of objects.
However, the feeling of being a failure still hangs over me, crippling any creative inclination I might have. This is what I feel is at the root of what I can refer to as my “writer’s block.” This feeling of impending, inevitable failure cripples me, acts as an immediate paralyzer to my ability to write. I sit down at my computer, pull up an empty word document, and immediately switch to facebook or tumblr. Or I don’t even make it to my computer, because writing takes so long and I’m so tired, and there’s no point anyway, because it’s not like anything I write is good.
And so nothing gets done.
My goal this month is to get over these feelings of failure and to get back into the habit of writing. For July, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo, as some of you may know, is National Novel Writing Month. It occurs during November, and everyone who participates undergoes the arduous task of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Camp NaNoWriMo is like regular NaNoWriMo’s laid-back cousin. Occurring in April and July, Camp NaNoWriMo is a month dedicated to setting a writing goal and sticking with it – whether it be starting a new literary project of any kind (play, poetry collection, etc) or editing past work into a new version.
This year, I’ve decided to use Camp NaNoWriMo to get back into the habit of writing. Every day this month, I have to sit down and write at least 500 words. They can be about anything – parts of a story, a blog entry, or even just a random stream-of-consciousness journal-style entry of things that I have on my mind. No rules, just 500 words a day.
The point is to overcome my fear of failure surrounding writing. If I can get comfortable sitting down and writing anything, if I can get back into the habit of writing in general, I hope I can get back into the habit of writing something that’s actually part of a greater whole without worrying whether or not the first draft is going to be a complete and utter failure.
Because let’s face it – the first draft, by definition, is going to be a failure. But that’s ok, because you can edit it and make it better. The greater failure is no first draft at all.