The NaNo Effect

Last year I started this blog a few weeks before tackling National Novel Writing Month. I hadn’t done it since high school, and needed a good way to motivate myself to finish the first draft of my novel. And I did it. I finished my book and won NaNoWriMo 2013.

The work is not over, however! I spent an entire year with my finished novel and barely edited it. Editing gives writers this  strange sense of hope and failure at the same time. Yes, we could fix this and turn it into something amazing and get published and we hope that we will see our book on a shelf, but for now, there it sits. Terrible, badly written, mocking our entire existence as if to say, ”Why did you write me? I suck!” (The hilarious and ever-knowing advice of Chuck Wendig helped me find the humor in the horribleness of writing endeavors)

I won’t give up, though. I fully intend on finishing edits on my book. But that’s why I need beta readers. I need people to read parts of my story and tell me what works, what sounds strange, and what’s funny or not. Finding beta readers is hard. I have tried to get my friends, some of them writers, to look at my work, but of course we are all busy with our own lives. I will have to do most of the work myself, alone, but it’s exhausting to read something you created when you don’t know anymore if it’s decent or should be banished to a fire pit of doom.

Now that I am a full-time teacher and part time graduate school student, I hardly think starting NaNo this year to write a new story would be a good use of my time. Things like studying Korean, keeping up with TV shows, reading, and fitting in time to exercise and keep my apartment clean, while also Skyping with the long-distance boyfriend, assure me that I don’t need to do NaNoWriMo this year.

My friend is taking on the task, however, and she and I met through NaNoWriMo last year. She has agreed to help me in December with edits on my book, once her brain has been duly fried from writing 50,000 of her own crappy words in just one month.

NaNoWriMo has helped me become a better writer. I have won a few times, only once with a story I intend on publishing. But the effects of NaNoWriMo are year-round. I always remember, “I could be writing right now” and that thought alone is what drives most of my posts on my blog. Writing is my passion and although it may never be my only career, I do know that to practice is the only thing that matters. I look back on my older posts and shake my head, partly because I know how badly worded some of it sounds, but also because I know that after a year of constant blogging, I am a better writer. After completely my novel, I know I am a better writer. I get complimented by my professors for my writing and I take pride in the fact that, since middle school, I have been a writer.

Writing really helps me in all aspects of my life. It helps me get ideas out of my head and onto a visual surface. It helps me connect with others all around the world, and hopefully my writing will inspire others and lift up people to think and to critically analyze. I love reading but writing is what really makes me feel accomplished.

Although I won’t be participating this year, I wish all of you who are taking on NaNoWriMo 2014 a hardy good luck and happy writing!