Recently I’ve had a craving to get out of my comfort zone and try my hand at writing longer fiction. Though I’ve been telling stories for a long time, the last November was the first time I tried writing anything more than a couple of paragraphs.
I decided that the only way I would get myself motivated was to participate in NaNoWriMo; a month long event during November where folks across the world try writing 50000 words in 30 days.
It was a bad month to choose such a challenging project. With exams taking up more than half the month, I did not reach my goal. I barely wrote 4,000 words of which I have since cut out 3000 words. Still, it is the longest piece I’ve ever written, and I’ve barely written the beginning.
However, in spite of not reaching my goal, I consider my NaNo attempt as a success. The month was a journey of self-discovery as a writer. I have come to accept that I cannot write with an outline hovering over me. Neither can I write without knowing at least a little bit about my storyline. I’m one of the plantsers; I like a happy medium between obsessive plotting and jumping in completely blind. I’ve learned that plot and setting come much more naturally to me, but I struggle with character arcs. I also find it hard to write scenes with a lot of dialogue. Character’s voice is another area that I tend to slip up and get sloppy.
So that’s my story, tell me yours. Let me know in the comments below what you learned from NaNoWriMo 2016.
In the words of a Facebook post I once saw, ‘It is not who you think you are that holds you back, but who you think you’re not.’ This is perhaps the truth of my life this past year and a half.
2016 may not have been a very good year in terms of my growth and progress in life, but last November and December had brought with it an important epiphany. While I had never stopped scribbling tales in short paragraphs, I stopped putting them up on the internet. A voice in my head insisted that I would never be as good as the legends like J.K. Rowling, Patrick Rothfuss, etc, so what was the point. Why show the world how bad you are? Isn’t it better to keep it to yourself?
However, going back to all my previous words, the ones that I had deemed unsophisticated, they don’t seem so terrible anymore. Today, they are merely words of an amateur. They are not my best work and could definitely use a revamp, but they are also not as unsalvageable as I had once thought.
If you are reading this post, I’m sorry that it is so long. You can stop reading if you want. I’m not writing this to inspire anyone else but me. It is just a reminder to stop beating myself up. A reminder that my opinions are as fluid as my state of mind and just as fickle. It is a reminder to not let that voice in my head stop the words flowing ever again. It is a reminder of my dream of getting published one day. It is a reminder of how far I have come from being the 17-year-old me who sent terrible yet heartfelt poetry to my friends and pestered them until they begrudgingly left me a compliment. It is also to tell myself even if I think I’m the worst writer on the planet, I can get better as long as I keep writing.
It was almost a new year. 2016 had passed in a mad rush, just like every other year before it. Evie felt like she had been in a constant state of motion all her life; jumping from one foster house to another, one set of friends to another. Nothing on this earth lasted forever. Neither friendships, careers, passions, love, relationships remained the same. Inevitably, something happens to change the status quo. Experience had taught her this particular lesson over and over again.
Nevertheless, as world tip-toed its way into 2017, Evie wished time would stop just for a little so she could finally savor the magic of a new year. This over-hyped corporate holiday felt real this evening. For the first time, she was excited for the new year and wished time would pause for a while so she could savor this feeling.
She wanted to carve the memory of the fireworks filling the night sky outside her window in her mind forever. The year had marked her progress in the form of a roof over her head, of a warm bed for the night instead of a cold park bench and a phone buzzing with wishes. This year had allowed her simple pleasures of being free to feel butterflies in her stomach at the thought of getting a message from one particular number. She had even got a kiss at midnight, albeit from Merlin, her little kitty. As she sank into the warmth of her bed, for the first time in years, she felt it was truly a happy new year.