Write On Your Terms: Why You Can Succeed As A Writer Without Committing To NaNoWriMo

Let me start off by saying this: I love NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated twice in the last four years, and each time I felt myself challenged, excited and creatively supercharged with each passing day. The process of writing in 30 days a full 50,000 word or more novel is exhilarating to say the least. So this post is not a knock to the event at all. In fact the event is still a very huge presence in my writing in the month of November.

However, for any authors out there who are not participating or can’t participate in the event, know that it is ok. You do not have to participate in the event to be a great writer in life or even just in the month of November. I struggled for a couple weeks on whether or not I wanted to participate in this year’s event.

Am I participating?

So many factors came into play when it came to my ultimate decision. I am working four jobs right now, all of which take up a lot of my time. In addition to this, I have responsibilities at home that take up even more time of my day, so by the time I get to the point where I have time to write, I’m either exhausted or have very little time to write, only getting a few hundred words in at most. I also have a project I am deeply committed to, but I am already at over 40,000 words. I’m not sure how many more words my project will end up taking on, but I don’t want the pressure of having to write another 50,000 just to satisfy the goal of NaNoWriMo and writing more than I really needed. Each story is unique (as many of you writers know), and should not be constrained by word counts for the sake of statistics. It usually sacrifices the story and flow of the novel overall as a result. I started coming up with an outline for a short story anthology I want to write to create a whole new project to work on, but with all of the other factors in play, the timing for NaNoWriMo 2018 just didn’t feel right.

So I decided ultimately to hold off for the year. I felt at first like I was failing to join the writing community or failing to be the best writer I could be. Then I started to ask myself: why? My day jobs consist of writing. I have a whole project I’m in the midst of working on that will include more writing. I’m neck deep into the world of writing. Why should I feel any less of a writer just because I’m not participating in the event.

Your Terms

There is no shame in taking your own path when it comes to writing. Whether you have an existing project, a project that doesn’t require 50,000 words or more or already is near that goal, you don’t have to commit to an event to feel like a great writer. The best advice I can give to a writer is to just be you. Write what you love, and write it on your own terms. Whether it takes you a month or ten years, don’t let anyone else tell you, (although, unless you are writing the next great novel, ten years is a bit long. Just kidding). Even I am still growing as a writer, and learning that you cannot rush the creative process or a project as a whole. To anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck to you guys and I wish you well. I look forward to reading some of these projects in the future, and to interacting with you guys throughout the month as we all write alongside you. To everyone else, be you, and write on your own terms.

What do you guys think? Does this help any of you writers out there? Do any other authors have advice for anyone not participating in NaNoWriMo? Leave your comments below and be sure to share this post on your social media sites.

Check out my latest review of Firstborn by Tosca Lee here! Also grab your copy of my first two YA novellas in the Nightmare Academy series here!

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Interview with Author I. Ashmawey

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
Since a young age, I’ve always imagined the world differently. Asked strange questions. Pictured how things could be rather than how they are. Writing is my way of capturing that imagination and documenting it. When I have a thought, I write it. It’s my way of allowing that thought to leave my mind and instead, possibly go into the minds of others. If people like my thoughts, wonderful. If not, I have plenty others!
2) What inspired you to write your book?
I don’t know anyone who reads regularly in my circle of friends. Perhaps that means I need new friends 🙂 But it also means that in general, my generation is not one of readers. My generation gets a ridiculous amount of screen time. Whether it’s TV, YouTube, or whatever else, it’s all the same. First of all, it limits the kinds of opinions they will hear. Second, the mind simply doesn’t work when it is receiving content through a screen. It’s a lazy method, and breeds even more laziness. Even those who laud themselves as people who read the news, do they really read it? Or just the gist?
I wrote this book to encourage my generation to spend more time with an open book in front of them, rather than a screen. The hope is that with only five minutes a day, people can escape their lives and take a small glimpse into a life that once was, or could someday be. And perhaps they would gain something positive from this insight.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
The themes in the book are plenty, as every short story aims to take the reader somewhere different than the one before. If I was to summarize all the messages and concoct a common theme that connects them all, it would simply be: think differently. If society runs things in a certain way, that way may be entirely wrong. There may be a far better way that is waiting for someone to discover it. There may be a way far worse, that’s still worth trying in order to feel more assured of society’s way. There is always something to be gained when thinking differently and questioning everything.
4) What drew you into this particular genre or genres?
Writing a book of short stories was never my intention. I actually finished a sci-fi novel and had sent it to my editor for editing which usually takes a few months. In the meantime, I couldn’t sit idle. So I decided to put some ideas down, which turned into short stories. I then wanted to challenge my creativity: 30 stories in 30 days. I was able to do it, a story a day. Then I added ten more, and thought to myself, “Why not publish?”
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
That’s an extremely tough one given that there are 40 shorts with 40 main characters. But I think I would choose Apolena Kipp from the story “Before the Beginning.” A space explorer who takes humanity’s first trip back to before the Big Bang. There was a moment while writing that story that I truly felt scared for her. I couldn’t imagine the courage it would need to take such a trip. Being the first to ever do anything requires courage, but especially to cross that threshold where there are no safety precautions, that’s something else. I would want to ask her what this trip means to her personally. Why does she so desperately want to know what happened before the Big Bang? And more importantly, how did she feel about what she found?
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I have to be honest, I don’t have social media. I used to. I was one of the first to join Facebook back when it required a .edu address and you needed to put in which classes you were taking. But on a specific day, I found myself with my 1-yrld daughter at Disneyland, and I was fighting with someone I didn’t know on Facebook about some political opinion. It hit me then, and then I deactivated my account, and vowed never to return.
I don’t deny however that social media can tremendously help marketing a book. So that’s something I’m currently working on, but without social media 🙂
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
The most important thing any writer can do, is write. It doesn’t matter how bad the writing is initially. It doesn’t matter if t hey don’t have a fully fleshed story. Start writing, and write everyday. One’s writing is a muscle. If it’s not exercised it, it will become weak. To write is to find the characters, then the characters will build the story. Just start, that’s the most important thing. Start!
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
The soft sci-fi is currently out with agents! The book is titled, “ETA: the Trial of Logan Gruver.” The story talks of Logan, a traveler on a commercialized time-travel trip to the Pliocene epoch, who finds purpose and love when he meets Giselle, a fellow traveler in the past. Together, they discover that humanity will mysteriously cease to exist in the future. The newly discovered Canvas of Time, a fabric that covers the universe and also lends way to time travel, will begin to deteriorate. Logan and Giselle understand their devotion, the consequences of their actions, and why humanity may have to pay the price.