By Ash Thoms
Today is the 30th of November, which means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has come to a close. Very early this morning I finished my last sentence, copied all of my text, and put it into NaNoWriMo’s verification system.
I wrote 50,403 words. I was declared as a winner of NaNoWriMo.
It took a few minutes for this to set in. Even while writing this blog, I still can’t believe I completed this project. I have previously attempted NaNoWriMo, but I never had the drive or inspiration to write 50,000 words.
I touched on little life-lessons I learned throughout this project with my other blog posts, but there’s one life-lesson that isn’t so little that I have yet to touch on.
I am a writer.
I am a writer because I write. Writing feels like breathing to me. It is the one surefire way that I know how to express myself. However, I was cautious of proclaiming myself as a writer because I was worried I wasn’t good enough, thoughtful enough, or driven enough to be considered a writer.
The truth is, I am. Anyone who writes is a writer.
It took me a month of sleepless nights, over-caffeinating, and cancelling social engagements to feel comfortable with saying those words out loud. Let me save you the trouble: if you write, you’re a writer.
When we engage in other activities, there’s hardly ever as much hesitation to identify ourselves as participants in that hobby. If you are enrolled in school, you’re a student. If you play a sport, you’re an athlete. But writing feels so close to identity that proclaiming yourself to be a writer feels like proclaiming something else entirely.
For me, it felt like I was proclaiming a false identity. Yes, I write, but that didn’t make me a writer. I thought writers had to be deeply involved in some sort of creative writing pursuit. I know now that isn’t true. I was a writer when I began this project, just as I am now, because writing is one of my hobbies. Writing is something that makes me feel alive and keeps me sane.
I had a story to tell, and it was a story that I had to get out of my head one way or another, so I wrote it. I wrote it because that’s what I know best. I wrote it because I love a challenge, and I wanted to see myself succeed.
I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone of spoken-word poetry and academic writing. I challenged myself to write something that mattered to me and something I wanted to bring to life.
Right now, I’m not sure if I will do anything with this completed manuscript. Honestly, if I don’t, I’ll still be content with everything I did this month. I learned so much, and I made something that mattered to me—even if it is just for me.
If you want to be a writer, write. Write for you, and let the rest follow. Practice and learn as much as you can; then continue to learn what you didn’t think you could. After all, as Ernest Hemingway once said,
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”