Contemporary Fiction Author, Infrequent Blogger & Retired Clown

What I learned from NaNoWriMo

Before I get into the lessons I learned from participating in National Novel Writing Month, I’d like to take a moment and congratulate all of the wonderful authors who reached their 50,000 word goals. I’m sure after a two week-long nap and some strong meds for your carpal tunnel syndrome, you will feel the swell of pride you so richly deserve. Kudos to all of you!

For the rest of us (myself included) who fell short of our goals, let me share the wisdom of every sports team who’s ever had a losing season: There’s always next year. (I hear that phrase is spreading through Gainesville like a bad case of the clap…oops, sorry–had to get in my Gator dig of the day! 🙂 )

Seriously though, if I’ve learned anything from NaNoWriMo, it’s that we’re truly all winners just for participating in this incredible event. We’ve all accomplished some level of writing prowess no matter how many words we were able to pen. We managed to find time between work, school, family, friends and Dexter to devote ourselves to our writing passion, and for that we deserve a pat on the back.

I’ve been making excuses for over a year now about why I can’t find time to write. I’m busy, tired, cranky, not in the mood, distracted, and so on and so forth. But for NaNo I put all those excuses aside, dove in headfirst and you know what I discovered? It was liberating.

I love writing. It’s not just something I have a knack for, it’s my release. When the stress builds, when my job is frustrating, I need writing to take me away from my day-to-day struggles so that I can develop another world that is entirely under my control. I make people sad, but I can also make them happy. I can change their lives in one burst of key strokes–something I can’t say about my own life.

Beyond that, this writing passion of mine is something I want to turn into a full time reality. Someday, I want to be a professional author whose writing skills can support myself and whatever family I have in a meager to modest lifestyle. And while there are a lot of “if’s” that stand between me and that dream, the only person who can truly keep me from reaching that goal is myself. If I don’t write my book, it won’t get published. If it doesn’t get published, no one will buy it. If no one buys it, I can’t have a sustainable career as an author (or get the opportunity to steal Jake Gyllenhaal out of Taylor Swift’s arms…).

So I’m going to use that little revelation as my fuel to keep going on the Fried Pickles novel I started on November 1st. I made it halfway to 50,000 words (if you’ve downloaded the Smashwords version and noticed less than 25,000 words, that’s because I held out about 5,000 words of the ending for obvious reasons) in just thirty days, while I was also working, traveling, sleeping and of course, keeping up with my fantasy football team. I have proven to myself that I can make time to write and that’s something I will continue to do.

I hope everyone else enjoyed their NaNo experience as much as I did! Kudos to everyone who participated–and if you didn’t finish your book, keep going! You owe it to yourself. 🙂

Later days,

– Shannon

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