There’s no such thing as “ready”
by Shanan Winters
Welcome to November! By the time this post goes live, we’ll be one-third of the way into the month, and another several days closer to the end of 2015. Where did this year go? Am I right?
November is a big month for many fiction writers – National Novel Writer’s Month (or NaNoWriMo, as it’s more famously called) – kicks off on November 1st and continues through the end of the month. For those unaware, NaNoWriMo challenges us fiction writers to put down 50,000 (or more) words in a single month.
According to Chuck Wendig, this is a normal goal. It is attainable and perpetually sustainable no matter what month we’re in. Many of his points are spot-on, and the overall article provides a fairly comprehensive survival guide for pounding out a fairly large word count.
There are countless articles out there regarding NaNoWriMo, why you should participate, why you shouldn’t participate, and how to survive the month. This isn’t another one of those stories.
This is the story of a conversation I had with a friend who wants to write a novel. I asked her if she was going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. You see, last year, we had this same conversation. At that time she told me exactly what she said this year: “Maybe next year. I’m just not ready.”
My answer to her was this: “I wasn’t ready last year when I sat down on November 1st and started writing Rising. It goes to publication next month.”
There is no such thing as ready.
I wrote an article on my blog in May after having a severe episode of Life-with-a-capital-L. In that post, I concluded with the following:
“…life sucks. And life is great. And life is everything in between. If I want to be the next JK Rowling… or better yet, if I intend on being the first and only Shanan Winters… then the writing has to happen no matter what. In joy and in sadness, in sickness and in health. In peace and in frustration, and while counting backward from ten. Life is. Just write.”
When it comes to making our dreams a reality, we cannot wait. There will never be a “right time.” We will never be ready.
I waited for years before starting my novel; looking back, I’m not entirely sure what I was waiting for.
Did I feel like I needed more short story publications to legitimize my longer works? If so, I would have pushed for more publications.
Was I thinking that maybe I lacked a solid plot or sufficient skills to build believable characters? No, not really.
Did I think I couldn’t hack it? Maybe. But then again, no. I’ve known I was a writer since I could hold a pen and form sentences. And to be quite honest, I don’t remember learning that skill, it happened when I was so young.
The point is I never did anything to prepare for writing my novel. I didn’t lay the foundation of a writing business around myself before jumping into NaNoWriMo last year. I didn’t start studying up on publishing methods until I had 45,000 words written. It never crossed my mind that I’d need to learn marketing until my novel was complete and I was talking to agents at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference earlier this year.
Last year, right around the end of September, it occurred to me just how many years had slipped by without me noticing. It dawned on me that if I continued to wait, it might never happen. I’d never hold my novel in my hands. There’s no way I was ready—by any definition of the word—to write my novel, Rising: Book One of the Adept Cycle.
And yet here I am just a little over one year later. It’s written, edited, and days away from publication. I’ve learned more about the business of writing in the last year than I can reasonably describe in this short post. I have goals, a direction for my business, and tangible results.
I wasn’t ready when I started last November, but I’m sure glad I didn’t let that stop me.
Guess what? When I started writing the sequel to my first book about a month ago, I wasn’t ready then, either. And when NaNoWriMo crept up on me, I had a million LIFE reasons why I just couldn’t – shouldn’t – participate.
Guess who is 20,000 words strong and counting on the sequel to her first novel?
That’s right. This girl. The one who still isn’t ready.
Fortunately, there’s no such thing.
Shanan Winters is a Phoenix-based freelance writer, editor, and novelist. She has avid interest in geek topics and fandoms, issues of parenting, and desert horticulture. She loves archery, cats, aviation, and board games, and has performed in a variety of Irish folk bands over the years. When not working on projects, Shanan can be found writing about writing at ShananWinters.wordpress.com.