Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wasted Wednesday: What Public School Did Not Teach Me Part 1 (NaNoWriMo Reflection)

NaNoWriMo has always been an event I have sat on the sidelines for.  I never had the push to write an entire novel in one month.  Sure I had lots of great ideas but nothing I was confident enough to go ahead with.  But this year was different.  This year I actually had an idea.  The idea came to me this past May during finals week.  It seemed like the novel I was born to write.  All during finals week I neglected studying and instead wrote out every little detail I needed for this novel so I would not forget.  It was important.  It seemed life changing.  It was life changing. 
I guess I decided that this November I would participate in NaNoWriMo because I had a solid idea that I had been wanting to write for months but never found the time.  I settled the matter in my head during October that I would finally participate in National Novel Writing Month.  Honestly, I wish I had participated sooner!  Anyway, the idea of it all was very intimating.  As November neared, my nerves began to tense.  I was terrified of changing my calendar to November.  How could I write 1,667 words a day and still find time to do schoolwork for the six classes I was taking?  It seemed like I picked the wrong year to participate in NaNo.  But I went through with it anyway.  I printed all kinds of blog postings about NaNo and guides and rules and tips to help me out.  It was help that I felt I desperately needed.  Truthfully, I only read one page of the many I printed out.  It turns out, I was okay after all.  I only followed one tip the entire time (besides trying to write 2,000 words a day). 
The tip I followed every time I wrote was this - do not use consonants.  It is such a simple thing yet also something I generally never thought about and is very important during NaNo as word count is key.  I mean, teachers have continually told me to not use consonants in my scholarly papers and such, but I used them anyway (unintentionally) and nothing seemed to be able to drill this idea into my head.  Then NaNo came along.  Suddenly I was very much aware of the words I was typing and the effect they were having on my word count and my story itself.  I became accustomed to correcting myself every time I typed a consonant and Ctrl-F became the shortcut I used often to search around my writing to make sure it was clean.  I did not think about it much until I made it halfway through NaNo.  I began to feel a sense of pride in myself.  Not only was I writing the proper amount of words a day and feeling pleased about where my story was going, but I noticed a change in my writing as a whole.  I found that when I wrote blogs and when I wrote papers for school I was very much aware of the consonants in my writing.  In a way, this improved my writing a bit.  It felt good.  And then I thought, how come I never thought like this before?  I mean, teachers have been harping on this tactic since middle school yet I never caught on.  School never truly taught me this skill.  But NaNo did. 
NaNo is a challenge that is essentially a race against the clock.  It is when millions of writers sit at their computers or with their notebooks and pour out their passion and write not to please and not to get a grade but just to write!  There are no rules except get those 50,000 words written by the end of November!  Maybe it was because I did not feel pressure from those around me that I learned this skill.  The only place pressure came from was from myself and that is good pressure.  All I know is that my writing changed for the better during NaNo and it happened when I was writing something that was important to me instead of a term paper for class.
This is one of the many things public school has not taught me.  As I grow older, I tend to notice how much I learn OUTSIDE the classroom.  Everyone learns outside the classroom.  Yet America is obsessed with getting a college education and staying in school.  School has always felt like a cage for me rather than somewhere I can be myself.  I'm not saying school can't benefit us.  I do enjoy the books I read and am exposed to and the conversations that arouse in class.  However, I hate being judged by my grade point average and being told that to be respected in the world I must take four semesters of a language to get a degree where I will never return to that language again or that I must take a science course to be considered diverse when I will never think critically about science again.  I could go on and on about the flaws in the college system and the public school system but let's get back to the point at hand.
Essentially, I took a lot away from NaNoWriMo.  I acquired a new skill and wrote a novel that I am immensely proud of!  I have not written this much since I was in high school and had study hall free time to write as much as possible.  I can not wait til the Fall semester is over and I can edit it!  It was an experience of a lifetime and I hope I can participate next year as well!  Anyway, I would love to hear about everyone's NaNo experience so send a message my way!  I do not bite.
Oh, and my final word count ended up being 50, 425 words! :)

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