I’ll start this honestly. For way too many years I trashed NaNoWriMo because I was an arrogant kid. Simple as that. I made my own rules on how you should write and churning out a book in a month went against all those rules.
You can’t put out quality work so fast. Does a book end at 50,000 words? It just pollutes the community.
You know what pollutes the community? That stinkin’ attitude, missy.
Over the last few years, I really let it go and stopped caring. It was great that it gets people writing, gives people a community, and helps budding authors work towards goals. All that said, I still was completely uninterested in “stooping down to that level”. Even if you would never catch me saying that, there was a part of me that felt that way.
Well, no worries. Karma bit me good and hard on the rump.
This year was the worst year for my writing.
I stopped my blog. My grandmother passed away as did my childhood dog. I struggled with the unknown of a new health issue (I’m fine). I realized my future dream wasn’t what I thought it was. There were plenty of good things, marriage, travel, graduation, and seeing my husband pass his black belt test.
But they were all stressful.
It did a real number on my brain. I lost that creative spark. The desire was still there but without the time for reading, my words fell apart. With all the added stress, I could not tap into that well of creativity inside of me no matter how much anime, fantasy, and sci-fi I watched. My brain was not accepting it.
It frustrated me to know that I’ve been writing for years and now, I felt dried up completely at 24 years of age. Bummer
But then I decided to give NaNoWriMo a go and see what happened. Boy…did I learn some stuff.
Yes, writing to hit that word count sucked. Most people will say it was hard, trying, and all that jazz but I won’t. It was tough, but it sucked. 90% of those days, my brain wasn’t in it. Half of my story is telling, and the other half is dialogue.
On a very serious note, writing at all when I had no ideas on what to do, where to go, how to even plot my story was crippling. I cried some days. I chewed at my lips others. And some days I completely gave up.
It was a painful process. Forcing those words to come out of my head knowing they weren’t great was a very, very painful process for me. Writing has always been easy. I’m a fast writer and I’m pretty good at what I do but this wasn’t the case this time around. I was slow. Out of practice. And what was coming out wasn’t all that great. I had to relearn how to write.
I NEED TO READ.
I realized, probably with one week left in the competition, that I have to read more. I just don’t read enough, no matter what I thought. I wasn’t carving out the time to read like I used to. As much as I identified as a bookworm, I can’t remember the last time I read a book.
It reflected poorly on my writing. As I started to really read again, I felt like one million lightbulbs were going off in my head. Of course my writing was terrible. I wasn’t stimulating myself. I wasn’t studying my craft. I was being plain lazy. Writing is my job and part of that job is to read.
I’ve mentioned this earlier but it connects back to the last point. I really need to relearn how to write. My style has changed so much in the past few years and I haven’t read enough so I have this weird collection of slop on the page. It’s time that I take what I like and throw away what I don’t, rules be damned.
I need to spend time with myself and my words and create the author I want to be become so that next year I can set out towards that goal with reckless abandon…or diligent logic.
I have many projects that haven’t lived up to their potential because I was unwilling to put my whole self into them. I was absolutely unwilling to allow my words to take a different shape but now, I’m more than willing and am excited to change my works.
I AM CAPABLE.
This is the last point, but it is not the least important of the bunch. I am capable. I am capable of writing a book in thirty days, on only 18 of which I actually wrote. I’m capable of pushing through dry spells. I’m capable of being creative and overcoming a “block”. I’m capable of creating.
I am a capable writer
That was not something I knew before this journey. Not even though I’d already written three books which were all objectively better than this latest one. This journey smeared my ability all across my face. I cannot deny that I am a capable writer anymore. That means something to me. That’s what I’m taking away from this experience.
This month has been a big learning month for me. Despite everything happening, I managed to do a very hard thing. All it took was a little, or a lot, of extra determination and accountability. I genuinely surprised myself with my accomplishment and with what I learned about myself. I’m so glad that I did what I did and stuck with my project.
From day one, I wanted to quit but I decided not to. For whatever reason, I made that goal and couldn’t back done. Not even on the last day when I still wanted to give up.
I’m a better person for finishing that book. I’m a better person for not giving into my doubt.
What do you think?
Could you stand to use a little work on yourself? Make a goal, a really tough one, but stick to your guns and prove yourself wrong. At the end, take a few days to reflect on your results, your accomplishments or failures. How did you surprise yourself?