Am I a Writer Now? A First Time NaNoWriMo Reflection.

So that’s it. November and NaNoWriMo are officially over. The last 30 days spent being a servant to word count, character development, and plot lines has ceased. I, like may others, have put in a lot of my sanity into my word processor and came out a victor with 50,069 words. Therefore the question must be asked;

Am I a Writer Now?

I mean sure at least a quarter of what I wrote is crap and there is the fact that nobody but me has read my words, and I am fully aware my plot fell apart at some point but hey, it still remains that I freaking wrote over 50,000 words of original fiction! That has to count for something right?

But does is make me a writer? I mean if you look at Dictionary.com they give you five solid definitions;

  1. a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession;an author or journalist.
  2. a clerk, scribe, or the like.
  3. a person who commits his or her thoughts, ideas, etc., to writing: an expert letter writer.
  4. (in a piece of writing) the author (used as a circumlocution for “I,” “me,” “my,” etc.): The writer wishes to state….
  5. a person who writes or is able to write: a writer in script.

Alright, okay, let’s break those down in reference to me and my weird brain space.

  1. I definitely engage in writing, and a little of all those things. I would love to make a profession of it but, alas not yet.
  2. I am all about a life where I can describe myself as a “scribe”.
  3. Oh yes I commit my thoughts and ideas to writing, often more so than is likely practical.
  4. Can’t say I’ve had this happen.
  5. Check & check.

So by some pretty flimsy and daydream-like logic I am for sure a writer. Awesome. Let me live that fantasy.

However I am held back by the notion that writing 50,000 words of part crap that isn’t really destined to sit on a shelf at Barnes & Nobel makes me a ‘Wannabe Writer’. Which puts me back at square one, a place I’ve resided for the majority of my life. It’s comfortable, has a great view, and ultimately is home. But we all have to leave home sometime to make it in a new, uncharted territory that comes with no guarantees.

Over the last month I’ve seen a slew of inspiring quotes about writing and what it means to be a writer from authors, journalists, and just aver people doing NaNoWriMo like myself. And they range in perspective and advise, but at the heart, at least what I found at the heart, was the idea that the most key aspect is to just write and believe you’re capable.

Well I’ve written for as long as I can remember but I’ve definitely lost the facet of believing in the last few years. Which thanks to taking the NaNoWriMo plunge I’ve gained back a little. I used to write all the time for my own pleasure and had tons of notes stored away with ideas. But somewhere in college I let my creativity get bogged by all my assignments and other stresses and I stopped writing as much, even sometimes not at all for months at a time.

I knew I needed a Taylor swift kick in the ass to find my way to a familiar path. So I decided November 2013 I was taking on the beast of NaNoWriMo. Along with that I knew I needed to practice so I took October and used it to write at least something every day and challenged myself with original pieces to find my voice.

Overall it was successful, due large in part to friends and strangers who gave me prompts and kept tabs on me. As November approached I felt fairly calm and like I could weather this storm. And for the most part I did, I stayed mostly ahead of word count, only had four days with zero words (two of which were after I crossed the finish line) and wrote more than I ever dreamed up with my characters and their lives.

Granted like I said earlier, and in a separate post, my plot took major hits, or it was just lacking major holes to start with. I ended up more so writing scenes in the lives of my characters with a very loose and shaky trajectory. So if/when I go back and edit I will need to come at that part with a new angle and vigor.

But at the same time I wrote some stuff I am really happy with and could put under a category of “Things I will fight my fake publisher over”. I had some great moments with my characters that brought out feelings I feel really narcissistic for having.

Obviously there were days I felt like doing everything but writing, and even days I was sick of my characters and wanted away from this world I had created. But if nothing, I knew the disappointment I would feel in myself for not giving my all, for failing, was more impressive than any other pressures. So at some point I knew I was going to win on at least sheer determination to prove myself wrong. It kept that fire going even when the embers got real weak.

I needed actual evidence to prove to myself above anyone else that I could do this. That I was capable of it, of making my dream…maybe not quiet a reality but at least make it more tangible. For a while in my life I had really started to lose focus, sight, hope, and belief that I could come even remotely close to the vivid fantasies that I had created for myself.

NaNoWriMo gave me back a little bit of that confidence. Re-ignited a fire that was close to going out, and for that I am really thankful. I can feel a new energy in me and while it’s not at 100% most days I will take what I can get because all it takes to keep pushing forward is the bare minimum.

So if we circle back to the original question; Am I a writer now? I think it’s valid to say I’m on my way. I took a right turn on the path and have made my way a little bit. At least I can say I have maybe shed the coat of “Wannabe Writer” and shimmied into one that represents an “Attempted Writer”. For if nothing else, I’ve made decent strides in actual writing and in the department of believing. The ultimate goal is to drop all descriptors and have the word become a title.

It will be a title I wear as if I were royalty.

But for now I am taking that much-needed break away from my story and characters. I’ll come back to them eventually but space is good, it will help me approach with a clearer mind and maybe a new perspective.

I spoiled myself with some new book purchases and my plan is to get totally lost in the words of someone else for at least a month. You can definitely bet you’ll find me trying to keep up with writing in some form most days as well. I don’t want to get rusty between now and next year.

I hope that if you took part in NaNoWriMo this year you are content with your work. No matter if you wrote 5, 50, 500, 5,000, 50,000 or more words I think you should feel amazing for just taking on the task. It takes some cojones to put yourself out there and up to this adventure so don’t sell yourself short if you didn’t win. You’re still awesome, and yes you’re still a writer of some sort.

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2 thoughts on “Am I a Writer Now? A First Time NaNoWriMo Reflection.

  1. It is not flimsy at all. To be a writer, all you have to do is write. Be glad you made it. Do not over think it.

    No one finishes Nanowrimo with something that can be published right away. The object of Nanowrimo is to write. Hell, the object of Nanowrimo is not even to write 50,000 words, just to write. I cannot say it enough, whether you met the 50,000 goal or not, is not the point. The goal is there simply to make the writer think about writing more. All one needs to do to be a writer is to write, but there is a difference between a writer and an author. You cannot be an author without first being a writer, and to be a writer, you just need to sit down and write. Whether every word is crap or pure gold, write.

    The terms rough draft, second draft, etc. exist as means to bring a person from being a writer to a an author. Write garbage, write filth, see what works and what doesn’t, then when you have all of it sorted out in your head, you are left with a finished product that you are then able to use to take that final step from writer to author.

    Congratulations on reaching the goal, but that is not the only point to Nanowrimo. Learn from what you’ve done, build on it, and keep plugging!

    I myself am not completely satisfied with what I ended up with. I made it to 60,000+ words in the end, but I did at one point have to sit back and stare for a while, because my own character had poked a hole in the plot. So I had to work on that in order to get back into the groove of writing. Still, I may end up dropping a chapter or two and re-writing a few sections to get it smoother and more sensible. But, I wrote, and that is the point. I got my thoughts down. If I did not write, those thoughts would have vanished in the day to day brain washing machine that is called life. Then, I would have nothing. So even though what I have written will never be in a book in Barnes & Nobles as is, it is a stepping stool. Something to work with. Without it, without Nanowrimo, there would be nothing.

    Be proud for having written!

    -Ken

    • “All one needs to do to be a writer is to write, but there is a difference between a writer and an author. You cannot be an author without first being a writer, and to be a writer, you just need to sit down and write. Whether every word is crap or pure gold, write.”

      I really enjoyed this sentiment. Thank you for the thoughtful and truthful comment Ken.

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