Caren Hahn
Image by Kelly Sikkema

Why I'm licking the restroom floor this NaNoWriMo

A psychologist who counseled children with severe anxiety once told me that when you have a fear of something specific, it can be useful to make yourself do something extreme to conquer that fear. She had a patient who was horribly afraid of germs, so as part of his treatment they went together into the public restroom and rubbed their hands on the floor. Then—without washing—they ate their lunch.

Disgusting, right? But effective.

For years I've been hindered by a fear of sharing my writing with the world. I have a completed trilogy, another stand-alone novel, and more works in progress. But only a few close friends and family members have seen them. In fact, you have to earn a lot of trust before I even tell you that I write. I've made plans to query agents, toyed with the idea of self-publishing, but always I find reasons to delay moving forward. There's another round of edits to do or I need to tinker with my query or I need a website or...or...or...

Time to do something extreme.

This NaNoWriMo I'm committing to post my daily work as it comes out of my brain and onto the page. Can you think of anything more extreme to combat debilitating perfectionism? Let me be clear. NaNoWriMo is amazing. It's intense. It's challenging. But the end result isn't exactly something you hold up and say, "It's so shiny and beautiful!" and then share with your friends and family. It's more like a roiling mass of word vomit that you keep hidden out of sight but you're super proud of because that mass of word vomit represents a month-long creative binge and you hope it can be shaped into something wonderful.

I do my worst writing at NaNoWriMo. I use passive voice because it uses more words. I leave sentences unfinished because I don't have time to fuss over precision. It's the closest I ever come to truly killing my internal editor and I can promise you that I keep my internal editor around for a reason. But I also do my best writing at NaNoWriMo because it's the only time of year my writing gets to be first priority. It's a fantastic creative endeavor that has yielded amazing experiences the past two years I've done it.

This year, I'm raising the stakes. I'm inviting you to be a part of that experience.

Every day I *write, I'll post it—unedited—on my site. You're welcome to follow along with each installment, or just check in every so often and see how I'm doing. I only have a loose plan for this year's project (I'm a diehard discovery writer), so you'll be discovering right along with me. It might be amazing. It might be awful. But it's dang better than licking the restroom floor.

*To accommodate weekend breaks, the Thanksgiving holiday, and family life, I don't split my time evenly between all 30 days. I aim for about 20 out of the 30 days, which puts my goal at 2500 words per day on the days I write. So if there are gaps, they're [hopefully] intentional.

NaNoWriMo 2019 recap
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