Everyone Is Just Winging It, You Can Too
The first two days of November are always exciting. I very excitedly start writing a novel. I write more than the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) prescribed daily quota of 1667 words.
And then phoof!
I fall on the ground like a deflated balloon.
The story idea that seemed endless fills just a few pages. How am I going to develop 200 pages novel from it? That too, in four weeks.
This year, like every year prior to this, I am plotting on the go.
All I have to work with is a simple idea. In one line, it is – two women, after experiencing the painful demise of their loved ones, decide to help each other end their lives in a dignified way. The “good death,” as they call it in euthanasia terms.
I ran past the premise by my writing buddies, and they all gave it a thumbs up. But it is one thing to have a story and another to develop it into a novel.
I used my favourite three methods to plot:
But even all that is not enough. Even if you know how to weave subplots like suggested in the “Snowflake Method” and how to arrange the main plot points as per the Three-Act Structure and beats by “Save The Cat Beatsheet,” you still need to know how to how to write scenes and show what is going on in your characters’ minds.
That is when the “imposter” demon starts raising its head. You are kidding yourself. You can’t write a book in four years, let alone in four weeks. Why are you wasting your time? Why did you have to declare it to the whole world that you are writing a novel in a month, now they all will laugh at you?
Before I dwelled too deep in self-doubt, I remembered reading an article Everyone Is Totally Just Winging It All The Time. The writer, Oliver Burkeman, gave several examples of politicians and people from all walks of life winging it.
We’re shocked whenever authority figures who are supposed to know what they’re doing make it plain that they don’t, President Obama’s healthcare launch being probably the most serious recent example. We shouldn’t really be shocked, though. Because all these stories illustrate one of the most fundamental yet still under-appreciated truths of human existence, which is this: everyone is totally just winging it, all the time.The Guardian
This was before Brexit, Trump, Coronavirus, and Scott Morrison’s handling of Australia’s worst fires in 2019. Since then the phenomena is much more evident.
In a popular Reddit thread, someone questioned, What is the most embarrassing thing that you should be able to do, but can’t?
The answers were on the lines of:
- Basic arithmetic. Really embarrassing at work when I panic and struggle to add up two small numbers.
- I’m nearly 30 years old and don’t know how to tie my shoes in the normal fashion. Instead, I can only do it bunny ears-style.
- Swim, ride a bike, drive a car.
- I am really bad at telling time on an analog clock, I know how it works and I can get there but I can’t just glance at the clock and know the time.
What we drew from observing the so-called “experts” and even the common people like you and me, that there’s no institution, or walk of life, in which everybody isn’t just winging it.
So his conclusion is:
The solution to imposter syndrome is to see that you are the one.
It’s you – unconfident, self-conscious, all-too-aware-of-your-flaws – potentially that have as much to contribute to your field, or the world, as anyone else.
Humanity is divided into two: on the one hand, those who are improvising their way through life, patching solutions together and putting out fires as they go, but deluding themselves otherwise; and on the other, those doing exactly the same, except that they know it. It’s infinitely better to be the latter (although too much “assertiveness training” consists of techniques for turning yourself into the former).
Remember, the reason you can’t hear other people’s inner monologues of self-doubt isn’t that they don’t have them. It’s that you only have access to your own mind.Oliver Burkeman
So here I am, winging my way through writing a novel in a month.
I am thinking that ten of thousands of participating know what they are doing, but I don’t have access to their minds. They might be scared as hell like me.
Leaving a few professionals aside, who have already written many novels before, everyone has the same doubts.
They are fighting the same battles every day, as I am.
And despite the daily setbacks, in the end, what matters is who remains standing on the battlefield.
That is it from me this week.
Talk to you next week.