NaNoWriMo– 30 Days that Changed Me

I suppose all writers go through them, and I am no exception.  Seasons of apathy, lack of motivation, and feeling uninspired.  For the past few months that is something I have been struggling with.  That is why I have had such a prolonged silence on my blog.  It’s hard to maintain a blog about writing when you’re not.  Life just felt boring, monotonous, and the fire and passion to write were not there.

What changed all that?  NaNoWriMo.  For those of you who don’t know about it, NaNoWriMo is a challenge for writers all over the nation and the world to write 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November.  That sounds daunting, and it is.  It breaks down to an average of approximately 1,700 words per day.  Every single day.  They have helps on their website– pep talks and forums and ideas to help with writers’ block.  When you sign up with their website they give you a page where you can track your progress visually with a graph, which is pretty cool.  You can connect with other writers, also, and see what they are working on.

Anyhow.  I wasn’t planning to do NaNoWriMo this year, partly due to lack of motivation, and partly because I wasn’t sure what to write about.  I had a half-baked, semi-new idea I considered, but there was a tangle in it I just couldn’t seem to work out, and anyhow, I wasn’t sure I even liked the idea.  Finally, however, in the last week of October I decided to go for it.  There was no particular reason for this, other than the thought that perhaps laying aside other distractions and focusing strictly on one thing for 30 days might help and inspire me.  Those thoughts lurked at the back of my mind, but I’m afraid my attitude was really, “what the heck?”

So on November first I jumped in with both feet, and was off and running.  The idea of NaNoWriMo is to simply write.  Not edit.  Just write.  A lot of it will be terrible.  There will be mistakes, typos, errors.  Don’t stop to fix it, just get words down on paper.  So for the month of November, that is what I focused on.  To my surprise, it went remarkably well.  I started liking my story more and more as I wrote it, and growing more attached to my characters and felt a growing desire to develop their world.  I felt like a writer again as the inspiration continued to flow throughout November.  All of the excitement, passion, joy of writing flooded over me again and I couldn’t wait to keep working not only on my story, but on other projects as well.  To say that NaNoWriMo ignited my creative fire again would be a true and accurate statement.  I passed 50,000 words on November 24.

As so often happens when writing a story, there were surprises.  Some of mine included: the story going directions I hadn’t planned, characters doing things I had not foreseen, and that tangle I spoke about above working itself out seamlessly after I started writing out the idea.  I was also surprised that the inspiration kept coming.  At the beginning, I wasn’t sure I had enough idea to cover 50,000 words.  Turns out I had more than enough.  But probably the biggest surprise was the personal turn the story took.  I never planned from the beginning to include any of my personal journey in it.  But my characters went through an experience I have gone through, and suddenly as I was writing about it I realized I understood these emotions so well because I had experienced them.  In that moment it hit me, I was writing my own journey here… and I was glad.  Events which transpired in my own life, but I was unable to write about before, suddenly I was writing about them through my character’s eyes, and in the process, finding release and healing.  I feel like I can write about them through my own eyes now, and for that, I rejoice.

It is faulty.  However now that it is written I can see many of those faults very clearly and work them out.  I am excited about the direction it is going.  I am eager to continue working on it and see where it ends up.  Even if it doesn’t ever get published, or go anywhere, the journey of writing was well worth it.  53,500 words and 30 days changed me.  I am a writer again, more whole than I was before.  That is an indescribable gift.

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About Laura Holland

A Jesus-follower, wife, mother and writer living in Albuquerque, NM.
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