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Tyler McGregor
Steffen Guenzel
ENC 1101-0001
18 November 2014

National Novel Writing Month: My Experience in Writing in a New Genre


The effect writing has on people is truly fascinating. Writing can install and
manipulate the emotions of the reader, hold their attention, and stir passion about events
or issues. Writers use words in such a remarkable, eloquent way that it can cause
inspiration for others to write. That is what happened to me. After reading a beautifully
written novel called The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I developed a passion for
both writing and reading. This passion resulted in a complex writing career for me since.
Just recently I discovered that each year, in the month of November, writers from all over
the world participate in a large writing event known as National Novel Writing Month.
The guidelines for National Novel Writing Month are fairly loose and unrestrictive. The
goal at the end of the month is to have a 50,000 word heaping pile of novel rough draft.
National Novel Writing Month provided me the ideal opportunity to join the international
writing community, just as this paper provides me with my first chance to analyze my
own writing process. While writing this paper, I find that more questions have been
raised regarding the writing process.
To figure out how my writing process works I set out to discover how my habits
and daily routine affected the way I began writing. From November 11, 2014 to
November 14, 2014, I created a daily log of mostly everything I did prior to and after

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working on my novel, disregarding miscellaneous activities. To do so, I utilized the Notes
application on my iPhone.
Its not until I look back at my log that I notice a trend in the relationship between
activities I participate in prior to writing and working on my novel. I realize that the
activities I engage in before writing influences my writing process considerably, if not
my entire thinking process. According to my log, before I started working on my novel, I
browsed various social media sites. Its unclear if this was the cause for why writing that
day was an excruciating process, but an interesting observation nonetheless. In
comparison, I notice that on November 12th and 13th I did not visit any social media sites
for a full two hours prior to writing. Instead, on those dates, I was working on homework
and reading. I have it recorded that writing on that day was much smoother, and words
flowed more coherently in my mind. This begs an interesting question. Do the activities
engaged in prior to writing influence ones ability to write or ability to think about what
and how to write?
Regarding writing, I found that I most certainly have to be in the right mood in
order to get my creativity flowing. What defines the right mood one might ask? I
imagine the answer is exclusive to the individual writer. For me, being in the right mood
means a few things. First, I must not be tired. If Im sleepy while working, my mind
tends to wander away from the task at hand. Second, I have to be listening to soothing
music. Third, I have to have the motivation to write. This is more complicated than it
may sound. One may think that an A or a good novel would be motivation enough to
write. But, based on my log, Ive found that I need daily motivation on a short-term scale
in order to write. For some reason, thinking of the long run isnt as satisfying as one may

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think. In my experience, I need a short-term reward to be able to have an effective writing
session. For my novel, this reward was for every 1,000 words I write, I get to take a 20
minutes break in which I can do anything Id like. I noticed that taking breaks while
writing resulted in a much more efficient writing process. Between November 12th and
13th, my writing time was much shorter and content more detailed and better written,
compared to November 11th in which I did not take breaks or have a reward system.
Perhaps one of the most important things Ive learned after analyzing my writing
process is that the first and most vital step in writing is to sit down and do it. Writing is a
time consuming activity that requires as much effort. I noticed that the best times I write
is when I sit down and actually begin just writing. In order for me to have a decent
writing session, I have to be completely focused on writing. This fact for me remains
unchanged no matter what genre I am writing in. While writing brings me solace and
relaxation, its not something I can do when Im in bed or on the couch. In order to write
efficiently, I have to be alert. This usually means sitting at my desk with soft music
playing and a caffeine rich coke next to me.
Planning for my novel differed greatly than how I plan for academic writing. For
my novel, I wrote down a few ideas I could use as a plot and began writing from there.
For my academic writing, I take particular steps in careful planning before I begin writing
my paper. This also raises an interesting question. Why did the planning stages of these
two types of writing differ so greatly? After analyzing my log and notes, I believe it
could be because my academic writing is held to a different standard than my novel. To
me, its acceptable if my novel fails. Writing is not (yet) a career for me; therefore failing

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at writing isnt something to be particularly concerned about. However, academic papers
and assignments for school are graded and can greatly influence ones academic career.
It can be argued that the writing process for individuals isnt completely
individualistic. Many writers face similar issues when it comes to the writing, especially
planning and figuring out what to write. For me, I have friends that are always willing to
help when and if they can. It often isnt anything that sets me directly on the path I would
like to explore, but having a support group to consult is sufficient enough to ease my
toughest part of the writing process. Throughout the process of writing my novel, I
noticed that the amount of times I seek outside opinion is far greater than when I write an
academic assignment. This is perhaps because academic writing has been, in my
experience, a very straightforward path with little room for originality. However, writing
a novel allows more room for abstract ideas. Perhaps this is just because the two types of
writing are different genres. Nevertheless, I seem to value the opinions of other people
when writing my novel. When peers make suggestions as to what I can write or include,
it allows for quite a bit of wiggle room. By this I mean I can take their vague, plain
ideas or suggestions but mold into my own. Many suggestions come in the form of
themes, so I can write according to those themes and still have the piece be my own.
After logging my daily activities and writing process for my novel, Ive noticed
the importance of inspiration and just how large of a role it plays when I write. For genres
outside of academic writing, I cant write about something I dont care about. I have to be
passionate about the piece I am working on in order for me to write to the best of my
ability. When I dont feel that spark of inspiration and creativity, I feel that my work
suffers. For example, the novel I am currently writing includes many themes and

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instances that have profoundly influenced me. Some of those that I included did so in
both negative and positive ways, but since they played such a large role in my life, I felt
the need to share them. Inspiration is what drives my writing process. Significant events
that happen in my life, such as break ups, financial issues, family problems, or other
hardships often are driving forces for my writing. These events leave such wounds that I
feel inclined to write about them, in the hopes my reader will be able to relate.
After a complete analysis of my writing for National Novel Writing Month, it
would be safe to assume that for my particular case, the writing process does partly
change in response to genre. Writing a novel for me has been an uncertain experience,
with ideas simultaneously popping up at different points. Perhaps the lack of planning for
my novel will ultimately make the process suffer, but for now it has encouraged
creativity on my part. Not having to stay within guidelines and being able to explore a
plethora of themes allows my mind to flourish and romp with ideas. For my novel, there
arent many constraints I have to abide by. With academic writing, there are and it starts
with the topic and can go down to include a word count. However, as a writer Ive found
that both of these genres are important and I am starting to realize the benefit of writing
in multiple genres.