Nanowrimo and Character Development


I’m thinking of making another attempt at Nanowrimo this year. I’ve tried it a couple of time, but anytime I’ve tried, I’ve always failed.

But this year I want to try again.

I’ve never actually tried to make a plan for it before. Usually I forget, or put off thinking about it until it’s already November, and I’m already behind. Or I remember on the 1st, but have no idea what to write about.

This year, I have had a little bit of time to think about it, so I think I’m going to do it.

I want to do it because I want to write. I want to remember what it feels like to just write without any expectations. Without it having to mean anything. That’s why I’m going to write a memoir of my study abroad experience in Spain.

I don’t have a lot of time to spend on making outlines or developing characters, but I want to be able to write 50,000 words about something, and if there is anything I can write 50,000 words about, it’s Spain. My time in Spain had a great impact on me. I want to remember my time there. But I also want to move on. In some ways, I feel like my life stopped after college, and I need to jump start it again.

Character Development

In preparation for Nanowrimo, I’ve been reading articles on writing and came across an article about character development and the character arc. It talked about how you have to determine your characters’ flaws and how they get past their flaws in order to achieve their goals. It got me thinking about my own flaws, and why I can’t achieve my goals.

And I thought, you know, maybe I should look at my life like I would look at the life of a character. Maybe if I focus on identifying my flaws and how to overcome them, I will know how to write characters better. Then I thought, maybe if I look at my life like that, I can fix my life while I’m at it.

Just like a character in a story, I need to overcome my flaws in order to achieve my goals.

Character Flaws

So, what are my flaws that keep me from achieving my goals, that keep me stuck reliving the same year over and over as time moves on without me?

  1. I can’t commit. I can never make up my mind on anything. I become so afraid of making the wrong choice that I can never truly commit to anything, and I freeze. And when I do finally make a decision, I begin to worry that I made the wrong one and am unable to move forward with my decision. Either I never make a decision, or I’m always changing my mind.  I’m always starting over, never finishing. I need to commit to something and see it through to the end.
  2. I lack discipline. I have a hard time being self-motivated over a long period of time. I did well in school because I had external motivators. Deadlines. Teachers. Graduation requirements. Without some kind of structure I have a hard time finishing things.

I could list many more flaws, but in the end, all of my problems boil down to these two. I could say that I lack focus, or am interested in too many things. Both are true. But the real problem is that I can’t commit to any one of these interests, and therefore, can’t focus on them. I could say that I’m lazy, but that’s because I lack discipline. I could say that sometimes I overcompensate and take on more than I can handle. But I wouldn’t do that if I was disciplined the rest of the time.

Character Development through Nanowrimo?

Awhile back, I got into accepted to graduate school to study speech-language pathology, but I couldn’t afford to go. Then, I made the decision to not be a speech-language pathologist because I couldn’t see myself actually doing that for the rest of my life.

All I have ever wanted to be is a writer. Of all of the things I thought about doing with my life, this one has not changed. I wanted to be a teacher, a linguist, a different kind of teacher, a journalist, a teacher again, a linguist again, a speech therapist, and a nutritionist. But I always wanted to be a writer at the same time. That’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to and it terrifies me. What if I am a terrible writer? What if I’m not self motivated enough? What if I commit all this time and effort, and I fail? What if I end up working at the Marriott for the rest of my life instead? Or end up becoming a Spanish teacher because it’s easier than trying to be a writer?

I’ve spent years writing and wanting to be a writer, and I have nothing to show for it. I don’t have a portfolio. I have nothing finished. Maybe it’s because I can’t commit. Maybe if I just commit to being a writer, I’ll finally do something.

So this is why I want to do Nanowrimo this year. I want to write everyday for a month. I want to prove to myself that I can commit to something and see it through to the end. Maybe I won’t make it to 50,000 words, but my goal is to not give up. My goal is to keep writing and write as much as I can by the end of the month. The point isn’t to do it perfectly; it’s to do it.



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