I often share posts in October to help people avoid the pitfalls that cause so many to quit NaNoWriMo, typically, during the second week. Many months ago, though, I had a wild idea. What if I shared my top five writing experiences this September? If I inspired even a few people that’d be enough. They might even turn their thoughts to NaNo sooner.
Okay, but what do I mean by writing experiences? What I don’t mean are those lightbulb moments, those instances of great ideas and/or solutions. They’re exhilarating, of course, but they’re relatively brief. I more mean those times that fulfill all the reasons you became a writer. So, what do I mean by all this?
First off, as I alluded to, I plan to share these in September, one each week, for five weeks. As fate has it, I’ll be the Writing Challenge leader on Twitter that month. Each month there’s a different leader. Since 2016 I’ve been the leader three times. The hashtag changes each month, so the month I do it the hashtag will be #SeptWritingChallenge.
Second, I’m narrowing my choices, focusing on more than moments. In a writing sense, instead of a single sentence, I’m going to share a chapter. Each choice will be those times that pushed me to grow as a writer. In reviewing my choices, I find they all lasted days. On the other hand, I’m leaving out more lengthy experiences of note like my Pannulus worldbuilding or learning to write in Deep 3rd.
Third, I’m trying to stay away from numbers as much as possible. Thus, I’m leaving out my first novel (Aperture, 2000), my first viable novel (Trust in the Forgotten, 2016), and so on. That was kinda sorta last week’s post, anyway.
Last, I’m limiting my selections to 2015 or later. Why? I consider it the beginning of my Modern Era. That was the year everything changed. I began overhauling my maps and worldbuilding. I learned to write short stories. I made the decision to learn Deep 3rd. In short, all I can say about what I wrote before that year is that it was all stepping stones.
Other than what I talked about last week, there is really only one significant fiction writing event that occurred before 2015, and that was long ago. After turning fifteen, I began writing poetry and even wrote a couple of stories. In the late winter of my sophomore year in high school, there was a writing assignment in my English class. Together, we’d created a location (an airport terminal the teacher drew on the board). We then had until the end of the week to write a story of one to five pages based on the location, either alone or in groups of up to five.
Quite literally, it was my fourth school district in four years. I knew no one. So, I tackled the project by myself. I drafted the story over the first couple of days. On my last day, I stayed up all night rewriting it. I turned in sixty hand-written pages that Friday. I still have a typed version and estimate it was about 5K long.
Instead of the teacher, Mrs. Randall, criticizing my overzealous efforts, she was overjoyed. Even now, so many decades later, I fondly recall the day she stopped me at my locker and told me I’d be in Honors English the following year (me, the kid who couldn’t diagram a sentence even under threat of death). I didn’t say much beyond thanking her. Emotions were threatening to overwhelm me. What meant the most to me was that, even if it was for only a short while, an adult had believed in me. Each time I’ve given back since has been in her honor.
So, given that, I’ll share five tales over five weeks. Rather than bragging moments, I want them to be learning ones instead that show how they forced me to stretch as a writer. I also hope to convey the emotional lift they each provided, and how they propelled me towards bigger and better moments.
Maybe, just maybe, I can inspire and, possibly, motivate a few writers to discover their writer selves. It doesn’t matter if you plan to participate in NaNoWriMo or not. Maybe you want to try your hand at journaling (I’ve religiously kept a writing bullet journal since 2018). Perhaps you’ve considered writing a memoir? Of course, there’s fiction. I’ve written every length there is at some point. Of course, there’s more to writing than drafting. There’s also worldbuilding and revising. Whatever the step is you’re considering taking, it doesn’t matter. It’s my hope you’ll read one of my tales and think, I’d like to feel that. You can.