This November, write for yourself, not the grade
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Along with many fall festivities, November brings a new one for avid writers. National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, began in 1999 and challenges people to write an entire novel — or 50 thousand words of one — in just 30 days. The goal of this challenge is to promote creative writing outside of an educational environment. Those who are not officially participating can still take this time to explore writing outside of the deadlines and conventions that students often bear.
If that sounds like an intimidating challenge, don’t freak out. When it comes to creative writing, there can be a sense of pressure to create something perfect that meets the high expectations of teachers, peers or yourself. We are our own harshest critics and the incessant worry of “not being good enough” often hinders us from enjoying the process of writing. That being said, there are ways to explore what creative writing means to you, even if the first draft won’t win you a Pulitzer.
One way to take part in this experience without worrying about the quality of your work is by journaling. Whether this be via picking up an old blank notebook or buying one with daily prompts included, keeping a journal can create a private space free of judgment to write about whatever is on your mind. It doesn’t always have to be that deep either — sometimes just writing about your day, as mundane or exciting as it may have been, is a nice way to process how you feel about what you have experienced.
Another writing practice that has grown in popularity is writing down manifestations or goals for yourself. Solidifying any intentions for your day, month or year can help change your perspective on your life and the power you have to change it. Affirmations or listing things you are grateful for can also serve as a reassuring positive reminder when feeling uncertain about your future.
For many, creative writing can also serve as a way to connect. Platforms where creative writing can be shared, such as open mic nights or spoken word performances, are also great places to appreciate others’ work or share your own. These events, which often cost little to nothing, host communities that invite people to share their writing in a space that hears and appreciates the author’s willingness to be vulnerable with an audience. The Avid Reader in downtown Davis hosts many author nights, where writers come to talk about their work to whoever is willing to listen. The main goal is for writers to gain exposure and share their craft.
In this day and age, it may be difficult to see the benefits of writing as equal to the importance of STEM fields. At a research-focused university like UC Davis, the majority of students are involved in areas related to math and science rather than areas of study focused on writing. But for all majors and career paths, developing a knowledge of how to clearly articulate your perspective, as well as learning how to write an email and a cover letter, is just as important. By writing, we create an opportunity to communicate and connect with the world.
So this coming month, a new challenge (with a smaller time commitment) presents itself: write. Anything that comes to mind, anything that sparks your interest, write it down. And then maybe, if it feels right, share it with someone.
Written by: The Editorial Board