I saw this badge on the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) site. It best represented my successful completion of the challenge, so I took it. It reminds me of my favorite sarcastic retro slogan:
This was the easiest go I've had at NaBloPoMo since I started participating in the thirty-day blog posting challenge three years ago. I think the secret was in the fact that, for the first time in my writing life, I gave up all regard for the opinions of others. I didn't censor myself or hold out for brilliance that I was completely delusional to think would ever come. I just wrote. Many of my posts this month were longer than those I usually commit to this blog. I'm pretty sure they were more boring. They were the essence of what Anne Lamott terms the "shitty first draft" in her archetypal book on the writing process, Bird By Bird.
I'm not sure if her words were working at my subconscious when I embarked on NaBloPoMo this month or if I somehow came to the conclusion on my own, but, either way, her message exemplifies my guiding force in posting daily throughout November. "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people," Lamott wrote. "It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft."
In letting go of that dictatorial inner voice, I was able to write a lot. The fact that most of it was shitty doesn't mean there weren't pieces of goodness in there: images that just might show up in the novel I am starting on; memories that can help shape my characters; and experiments in style and grammar that have, at the very least, potential to enhance my craft. While my posts this month are likely to remain "shitty first drafts," it's reasonable to think that they might spawn other shitty first drafts that will actually go on to become something more.
Now that I understand the cramping effects of perfectionism, the next most important step is making sure I don't lose the discipline of the past thirty days. Discipline has always been my biggest deficit. It's a whole other chapter in Lamott's book; one that I will, like everything else, have to learn for myself, and in my own sweet time.