What I Learned From NaNoWriMo16

I'm going to share with you a lot of hard truths.  Things I needed to realize, and everything feels so much clearer now that I know.

Do you ever say a statement and it just feels right? It's the first time you've ever vocalized that statement, you never even thought about it before.  It feels like a content sigh, a warm hug, it's your truth.  It's always been a part of you, you've just never gave it words.

The most recent revelation I've had was when I was sitting in the kitchen floor of my aunt's house, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  I was a Neuroscience major, which I loved, but I felt stuck going down a path that only ended in science.  Setting myself up for a life of being a researcher or a technician, and while those are good jobs, my limited prospects scared me.  I do not like feeling trapped.

I sat on that carpet in front of their refrigerator, googling my school's course catalog, and said to myself: "I am an English major."

And I immediately replied to myself, my inner Kermit speaking, said, "Well duh Victoria, of course you're an English major."  It was a truth universally acknowledged, as Austen puts it.

Here is my truth, the truth that I could only realize after giving NaNoWriMo an honest try:

I don't want to be a writer.

Or, to put it more accurately, I don't want to be a fiction writer.  At least not right now, not at this time in my life.

Without fail, every time I sat down at my laptop to write for NaNoWriMo, I would think to myself, "Ugh, I wish I was reading right now".  Every. Single. Time.

I gave up on this year's NaNoWriMo, after averaging about 2,000 words a day, over Thanksgiving break.  I picked up The Secret Place by Tana French and felt so content and happy.

Sure, maybe it was the pace I was writing at that of course would lead to burnout.  I liked my story, I liked my characters, I loved the message I wanted to weave through the text.  And I realized that hey, I'm not actually a horrible writer.  Many times I could stop and chuckle at what I just wrote, and then send the quote to my friend Amber to see if it was actually a good line or not.

I just don't want to create my own fictional story.  Why would I do that when I could be reading the beautifully plotted and character developed worlds of other writers?

Because of NaNoWriMo16, I've decided that I should focus more on creative nonfiction. Life writing. Blog writing.  That is obviously what I'm drawn to at the moment.

So, for now, I've given up on fiction writing.  My energy can be better used in other areas.  Maybe one day a story will grab a hold of me that I can't let go, but for right now I need to write my own story.

Did you learn anything from NaNoWriMo? Have you realized some obvious truths about yourself this year?

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

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