Novel Writing, Step One: Permission to Fail

All right, I finally bit the bullet: I started my first novel. Or, rather, I started the first novel that I’m going to finish. I’ve started two novels: One in grad school, which morphed into a novella as my thesis deadline loomed. And a second one, about two years ago, peopled with enough characters to form a small country. I got overwhelmed and abandoned it at about the 20,000-word mark. This new one, though, I’m going to finish. Mark my words! Mark my words. (See how I repeated myself? That means I’m serious.)

I've dreamed of writing a novel for at least fifteen years. And it’s not that I’ve been slacking off—I’ve been a devoted writer of short stories—but the novel was out of reach. Too daunting.

My main obstacle has been… me. Me, and my ridiculous perfectionist tendencies and my fear of failure. What if I wrote a shitty novel? Doesn't "shitty novel" equal "personal apocalypse"?

Go head, roll your eyes. I'll wait.

This all changed when I made the decision to get over myself. Because, if writing a novel means a chance of failure, not writing it means an absolute certainty of failure. As it is, for every day that I don’t write the damn thing, I’m failing a little bit. I figure I might as well make a go of it and at least get to cross “Write Novel” off my bucket list.

So, I’ve officially given myself permission to fail. To write the shitty novel that I so fear. I’m going to put some characters into some awkward situations and have them battle it out for at least 60,000 words, and just see what comes of it. If it’s awful, oh well. I’d rather write an awful novel than no novel at all.

Wish me luck!

Anyone else have “Write Novel” on their bucket list? If so, what’s holding you back? What would it take to jump-start you?