NaNoWriMo 2015 is coming to a close and yet again I didn’t reach the 50K word goal, that doesn’t mean I didn’t gain something. A little bit of knowledge? Maybe a little inspiration. I thought my closing Sunday NaNoWriMo post this year would be all about what I learned this year and why I keep coming back even though I’ve never won. Well, won in terms of the NaNoWriMo challenge.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo.
- Winning means something different to everyone. I know I’m not the only one who didn’t reach 50K words, yet I don’t consider myself a NaNoWriMo loser, instead, I consider myself a NaNoWriMo winner. “But you didn’t actually win. Don’t you have to write 50K words in your novel to win.” I expect that is the response I would get from many people and in response I just have to say “I reject your reality and replace it with my own.” In my reality I won NaNoWriMo because I gained more insight into the world I’m creating. I developed my characters and discovered some new things about them, including some fantastic flaws. I learned more about their home lives, their hopes and dreams. I created some new, fantastic magical laws for my characters to discover. I built on my plot line and found new and better transitions between some of the main scenes. All of this and more was more valuable to me than 50K words. Yes, I know the point of NaNoWriMo is to help get people in the habit of writing, but if I’m serious about this, then these other things are much better for my work than word count at the point I am in my story development.
- Just because you didn’t pick up the pen or pound on the keyboard today doesn’t mean you’re not a “real” writer.” Honestly, that is something that’s always bothered me. Other people telling writers you’re not a real writer. What exactly does that mean? Who determines what a real writer is and isn’t? Why does one person get to make up arbitrary rules about what a real writer is. A real writer writes every day no matter what. A real writer is published. A real writer has sold a certain number of copies of their work. A real writer will use their grief from tragic situations and pour it out on paper as a spark into their creative flow. A real writer….is all of these and none of these. A writer is a person who writes. Period. If someone needs a break from a fun annual challenge, they can take it and it doesn’t make them less of a writer. If a person in a fun challenge chooses to stop mid way through, it doesn’t make them any less of a writer. If a person has an illness or death in the family and stops writing for whatever time period they choose, it doesn’t make them any less of a writer than they were the days or weeks before. A writer is someone who writes. There are no other rules. If you write and you call yourself a writer, then I will too. That’s all there is to it.
- There will always be crazy, creative, curious creatures out there cultivating a culture of chaos. Okay, so I wanted to run with some alliteration there. Seriously though, there are so many writers out there who just want to have a good time and often our personalities clash, but more often we come together and create an amazing world of fun and brilliant ideas. We solve problems, encourage each other and all around have a great time. I’m talking about the NaNoWriMo group I belong to on Facebook, but you can find these same types of people out there in meetups, other groups, forums or threads. Embrace these people who are dealing with the same challenges and struggles as you. They are the same people who understand your writing frustrations and also get it when you have an amazing break through or success that people who don’t write don’t always get. I love my crazy creative, curious companions and I welcome them on my journey and I’m glad I’m welcomed on theirs, even if I’m just a stow away they haven’t yet found.
Ok, so those are just a few of the things that really stood out to me this year as I managed to not finish my NaNoWriMo novel yet again. However, no one knows what I’ve been working on outside of that, so who knows, maybe I’ll surprise you in the coming years with an amazing publication. Or not. Guess you’ll have to wait and see!
Did you compete in NaNoWriMo this year? Did you win, by your standards or someone else’s standards? What did you learn this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.