While the initial goal is thought to be the numeric value of 1,667 words a day/50,000 words overall, the true goal is to get into the habit of writing, even when it may seem difficult.
What I learned from shaping a story
By Angelika Leal, Contributor
On the eve of October 31st, creeping out from under the cobwebs and waiting for you to come along, is the impending terror of something more frightening than Halloween itself: National Novel Writing Month. Affectionately known as ‘NaNoWriMo’, or simply ‘NaNo’ by creators and participants, is the annual challenge in which writers around the world strive to write an entire novel in November. Or at least, finish the first draft of a novel.
While the initial goal is thought to be the numeric value of 1,667 words a day/50,000 words overall, the true goal is to get into the habit of writing, even when it may seem difficult. After writing over 50k last month and claiming all the winner goodies offered, I’ve come to realize that I’ve gained more than an admittedly rough draft of my novel.
As a writer, I’m no stranger to creative blanks; the constant re-writing of that one sentence to get it just right, the moments wondering “do I even remember how to write?!” Basically, the things that make every writer re-think their life choices. It took me a little over a week to finally understand that my first draft was simply the start of my story. It was okay to write something with the knowledge that I was definitely going to go back and fix it later in the edits. I didn’t need to have heart-wrenching metaphors or beautiful, lengthy paragraphs full of imagery. All I needed to do was write. Once I had finally gotten this into my head, I was easily writing over 2,000 words a day. The real point of the word goal isn’t to have a finished ready-to-publish novel, it’s the fact that you have a novel in the first place, imperfect and all.
Finally, the most important thing I learned from NaNo was something about myself: that I am more capable than I think I am. I had my doubts about going on this journey. 1,667 words every day for 30 days? That sort of thing seemed impossible. But I had full support from my friends and an entire writing community taking the challenge alongside me. Halfway through November, I knew that I was going to win the challenge. How did I know that you ask? Because I told myself that I would. Hearing my fellow writers’ own struggles and having them stay so positive and so sure that they would finish made me aspire to be like them. These weren’t ‘professional’ writers who could write a whole chapter in an hour, they were people just like me. They were students, or parents, or part-time workers—regular people who wanted to have their story written.
The biggest takeaway from this entire experience last month was that I could (somewhat) easily accomplish something because I believed that I could, as cliché as it all sounds. Maybe this novel will never be published and maybe the words I’ve spent all these weeks writing will be deleted in the end. All that I know is that I’ve written an entire novel, and I can write my entire future if I want to.