What I Learned About Myself as a Writer 2020

Hello everyone! I hope your November is coming to a cozy close as we prepare ourselves for the last month of 2020.

I wanted to bring you this post today, in alignment with the final few days of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

I participated in NaNo for the first time this year. Now, I didn’t win. But I realized a few things about myself as a writer that I wanted to share with you all today.

Before we get started, I want to assure you that I’m not too upset over not winning NaNo. Because what I won was bigger than finishing yet another full draft. What I won was an insight into the right voice for my story, an insight I have been pursuing for many months.

So I have been consistently working on a particular passion project of mine, a YA science fiction piece, for over a year. It has gone through multiple full drafts, a few key parts thankfully staying constant. I am still trying to figure out the right voice for what I intend to tell, however.

Think about this. Here is a girl, working on a novel for over a year, still unable to find the right way to tell her story. A story burning inside her, desperate to be told. Don’t factor in age, don’t factor in the blood, sweat, and tears, don’t factor in the frustration.

Does it sound odd? Should this girl have figured it all out already?

I have always loved this little project of mine, pouring my heart out into it as I have never done before. So I wondered: Was it normal that it should take so long, and still take so long, to perfect even a first draft? Did others think it irritating, how mid-writing thrusts would constantly veer me in different directions?

Thankfully, that last question holds true for none. I am more fortunate than I can describe to have a supporting family and mentor. And all my frustrations with this book (yes, despite my love for it), made me fully realize what I think I knew all along.

Not only are my hopes and dreams for this book so ambitious that I constantly push myself to high standards, but what this book means to me is so valuable and beautiful, I cannot be satisfied until I find that right voice. Until I can find it, until each of the thousand pieces fit together without a single minuscule flaw, I will not be satisfied.

What does this mean in a single sentence?

“I want to be great, or nothing.”

You may recognize this bold line. You may even know who said it. Amy March from Little Women.

I will not say I particularly like Amy. I have, and still do, always favored Jo and Beth out of the four March sisters. But when I fully realized how close to home this line hit for me, I felt a little more connected to Amy.

I think the 2019 film shows it beautifully. We see a different side to Amy there. The part of her that embraces her artistic nature, her willingness to fight for her dreams.

So please, I encourage you to think about that line again.

I want to be great, or nothing.

Is this line too harsh? Is it too ambitious? Is it too unhealthy a philosophy?

Truthfully, yes.

Do I care?

No.

Not really.

I have a feeling that this part of me, that desire to produce the best work I can, or nothing at all, will be something I can rely on for many years. I have always been ambitious, I admit, and willing to work hard for my dreams. I also admit that this one line and the philosophy behind it can be very unhealthy for young people especially to hold themselves to, but I am fortunate in that I believe I know how to balance this so it doesn’t go to the extremes.

That one statement summarizes why, after over a year of consistent work on this project, I am still trying to find that right voice.

But that insight I mentioned in the intro, that long sought after insight, I have found at last. After all this time.

Do I wish I could have gotten to the right voice sooner? Of course.

Do I regret all that work that I put in, that will most likely never be seen? A little (who wouldn’t?).

But if it all led me here, if all the hardships and challenges I went through to get to this point, so close to the big realization, then I am happy.

So what do I hope all aspiring writers reading this can take away? And even if you know it already, I think it is an important thing to acknowledge and emphasize.

Writing is not all about getting to the finish point. Writing is about working hard and steadily to attain personal creative satisfaction.

Even if your little book, so dear to your heart, never makes it farther than your writing nook, as long as you are 500% happy with it, then what does the rest matter? If you love your characters, treat them like family – if you love your world, treat it like your little retreat – if you love the plot you crafted, treat it like your genius masterpiece – then congratulations.

This is a very hard point to achieve. Even I am still on my way to get there.

But I have every intention of reaching that goal.

And so, this post draws to an end.

I sincerely hope you found this post a good read. Whether you’re an aspiring writer or you are interested in how a book got to your shelves from a writer’s head, I personally feel that what I’ve tried to say here is applicable to many.

This was also a place to carefully construct all my thoughts, feelings, and opinions from years of writing and various emotions. Thank you for reading, truly.

Please feel free to comment down below something you’ve learned from your writing, or if you agree and want to add on to what I said here. Much appreciated!!

Until next time, lovelies.

15 Comments

  1. Great post, Eleanor! You’re reflections run deep and true! I love the line you used. Though Amy was never my favorite – Beth and Meg were – the 2019 adaption portrayed her brilliantly and I loved how they used her ambition to sculpt her character. I think that the line you used was very well-thought through. I will reiterate, this is a really great post! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Millay! Me too, it’s one of my favorite quotes 😀 Beth is so selfless and lovable ❤️ Yes it was the director’s idea that the movie feature more of Amy’s strengths, if I recall correctly. Yes! Ambition is definitely a trait that shows up a lot in the film, especially in Jo and Amy, and I would love to see more characters with that kind of personality 😀 You’re so kind, I hope you’re having an amazing week!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Although I have not done any fiction writing to this point, non-fiction writing has taught me so much about myself, in an abstract way, so I can relate in a small way to what you are saying. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, Eleanor!! This was an incredibly deep and reflective post! I absolutely relate to striving to find that right voice. Apparently, it’s something that I struggle with everyday. What we often fail to accept is that we want our voice to seem right to others and not to us. I think it would make a huge difference if a person, writer or reader would just mould their writing voice into what they think is right rather than trying to appeal to others.
    I’m not sorry you didn’t complete NaNiWriMo but I’m incredibly proud to see how much you’ve grown over the course of it. The conclusions you’ve mentioned here, take some, years to arrive at.
    And I believe that quote speaks for all of us on our unique personal levels.
    Brilliant write as always, Eleanor!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly D!! I’m so glad you were able to relate to this post ☺️ The voice you use in your articles and poems and stories is so genuine and so you, I love how your voice comes through so brightly!! Still working on the right-voice-draft, as I like to call it, but each step is progress. Thank you so much for your kind words!! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I adore this post! I totally agree with everything you’re saying! I’m currently working on a fantasy novel I’m really passionate about and I just want to take my time writing/rewriting it because I just want it to be good and if that takes a long time, I’m fine with that! Something I have discovered though, is that I can’t function without having a *very* detailed outline, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Alissa, thank you so much! ❤️ I wish you the best with your fantasy novel!! It’s so great that you’re okay with taking time, I’m sure your book will turn out fantastic! Lol I agree, having outlines are so helpful because they can really help one out of a slump in their writing. Thank you for stopping by! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. you write so eloquently and i loved reading this post 😭😭(i can’t wait to read your ya science fiction project, definitely lmk if when need beta readers 👀👀) and i’m so glad you were able to realize this during nano!! i didn’t win either, but i can definitely agree with you about wanting to be great or nothing – i’m overly critical of my writing and feel like i can resonate with that as well!!

    also AHH “Writing is about working hard and steadily to attain personal creative satisfaction” yes i love this!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw that is so, so kind of you, Ash!! Hehe of course, and I’ll gladly be a beta reader for your own work too!! I think to a degree, being able to scrutinize our own works is helpful, but too much can definitely be hurtful. I’m so glad you were able to agree, I think this quote is really a very powerful one. Aw thanks, this post was definitely crafted by my loving hand 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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