This month I’ve come to the realization that I have one thing above all others that I’m thankful for in my writing life. I’m thankful that I don’t give up. No matter how discouraged I am, how many rejections I’ve gotten, or how many days have lapsed since my last blog post (17 but who’s counting?!) I always manage to pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again. This might sound a bit too much like Katy Perry’s “Roar” but it’s how it works in my creative life. I once read a quotation that says something along the lines of “You always have two choices, to walk away or to try harder” and that has always rang true for me. There have been times when I have chosen to walk away, from toxic family relationships, from volunteer commitments that were no longer meaningful, or from business writing jobs that I instinctively knew would not be cost/beneficial for me to take. But, in the seven years I’ve been freelancing, I have never walked away from my writing. Honestly, I have never even been tempted to do so, even when it seems like I’m the only one reading my words.
So what does it look like to “try harder”? For me, it meant attempting something so far out of my comfort zone that I might as well be at the South Pole. What could possibly be that difficult and isolating you ask? National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately known by participants). It’s been an unusual, but rewarding experience for me so far. Though I’m definitely shooting for the goal of a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month, I’m not thinking that whatever I produce will be publisher-ready and that the next time you see me, I’ll be riding off into the sunset with a huge royalty check clutched in my fist. Instead, I’m viewing this experience as a “test run” to see what writing a novel entails and if I am both interested in, and capable of, writing one. Here’s why I believe that this November will be beneficial for me
- It makes writing fiction part of my regular work routine and forces me to write a specific amount of pages every single day. So far I’ve written about 7/day or an average of 1,450 words, much better than when I leave it up to chance.
- Working on a novel is great for improving my technique. I didn’t go to college for creative writing and I don’t have an MFA. Therefore I have a lot of missing tools in my writer’s toolbox. To take on NaNoWriMo, I’ve had to work on plot structure, descriptions of characters and settings, and on how to escalate conflict. I’m also learning about which point-of-view is the most comfortable style for me to write in.
- The final thing which I am hoping to get out of this experience is to learn how to be part of a writing community. I haven’t gone to any of the local writers’ events yet but I plan to before November 30.
Reading this over, it seems that I should not only be thankful for my persistent nature but also that there are so many exciting and varied opportunities for us writers to take advantage of.
Wish me luck. As of today I’m halfway there!