I’ll get to Tina and Amy in a minute, but first, let’s talk about the phrase, “Pencils down, everyone. Time’s up.”
Remember the anxiety in those words when you heard them as a kid? Well, the words “time’s up” still induce a bit of anxiety in me. But it’s the good kind of anxiety.
After writing the first half of my book, I found that I had a little bit more time between the last stroke of the key and when I was supposed to start writing again for NaNoWriMo (which started on Saturday, November 1). Which was great. I wanted to use that time to gather my thoughts, organize the plot structure a bit more, dive into the back stories of my main characters and figure out some plot twists that I kept glossing over because I just couldn’t find the right balance.
The good news is, planning and prepping are the easy part. I was able to get up most mornings, just like I’d done when I was actually writing the story, and lay down more detail for the story and the characters. But the problem was, I kept finding new things that I needed to figure out, that had to be done before I could start back up on November 1.
But on November 1, I sat down, did a last ditch effort of planning a bit more and then looked at the clock. Time’s up. I had about two hours before I would need to go resume life and I had 1,667 words that needed to be laid to rest.
The anxiety peeked it’s head for a moment, but then I started in. And within one hour and change, I was already at 2,132 words. I had more left in the tank, I could have kept going, but I called it a day. I thought to myself, “It’s never as hard as you’ve built it up in your head.” And then I went about life, once again.
Bossypants. Read it if you haven’t already.
This line from Tina Fey’s book, “Bossypants,” has been sticking with me lately when it comes to moving forward, even if you don’t feel ready. In her book, she talks about how she would agonize over details right up until the last minute before SNL would start.
The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30…What I learned about bombing as a writer at Saturday Night is that you can’t be too worried about your “permanent record.” Yes, you’re going to write some sketches that you love and are proud of forever—your golden nuggets. But you’re also going to write some real shit nuggets. And unfortunately, sometimes the shit nuggets will make it onto the air. You can’t worry about it. As long as you know the difference, you can go back to panning for gold on Monday.
When it comes to being a bomb-ass driven female, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are certainly great role models in that area. And it’s good to know that even really talented people have “shit nuggets” that they accept and can move past.
Show up before you’re ready.
So what if it sucks? Just put something out there, learn from it, and keep going. That’s my takeaway from Saturday’s first day of writing for NaNoWriMo…
Yes, your time’s up. But that’s how it should be. Regardless of whether or not you’re ready, the work needs to get done.