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 catalogue, 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.

damn, she was right

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

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  • Amber

    Thanks for the shout out! You are a really clever fiction writer, but descriptive writing like this seems to be something you are also great at. Also descriptive writing pays, girl. Come to anthropology grad school with me and you can do all the descriptive writing you want.

    • Victoria

      all these compliments wow thanks. I’m actually considering doing a masters in Global Health I’m morphing into you.

  • I tried to do it this year but only managed a shameful 300 ish words haha! So at least you did better than that! I don’t know why though as I do like writing fiction but I think shorter stories are more my thing!

    • Victoria

      From what I’ve seen short stories take more talent to write, so it’s cool that you’re drawn to them! I think for next year I’ll do something to commemorate NaNoWriMo, but in my own way. Like post every day in November or something like that!

  • I’ve never tried NaNoWriMo, mostly because I can’t handle the pressure. I think it’d destroy my love for writing…
    I hope blog writing will bring you everything you’re looking for 🙂

    x Envy

    • Victoria

      the pressure definitely gave me more motivation to write, I just think that the pace of it on top of being a college student was a little much!