Why you should write a novel (and fail) in college

Jalynn is a junior Communication Studies major with an interest in social media, PR, and design. She loves to read YA novels and occasionally writes mediocre fiction – she’s working on the mediocre part.  Want to connect?

by Jalynn Madison

I’ve known I’ve wanted to write since the 5th grade – the same year I fell in love with books. I loved how words on a page could make me feel so many things at once. Sometimes I was sad, surprised, or angry. But no matter what I felt while I was reading, I was always hungry for more by the end. I decided at the age of 10 that I wanted to have a command over words so powerful that I could make people feel the way I always felt when reading a book.

And so began my journey of writing.

The Process

I started writing on different websites, posting chapters and snippets of short stories. I was always writing and always reading. I drew inspiration from the people around me and the books I was reading at the time. The more I wrote, the more I could see the change in the way I was writing. I went from having pages and pages of dialogue to pages and pages of description. I learned how to paint my world in vivid colors and make people believe it was real. I was by no means New York Times ready, but I promised myself that I’d keep writing and eventually publish a book.

In 2014, I decided to start on a different idea, one that I’d been working on for months. I started writing and editing and writing some more. I thought it was good – my best yet. I had worked thoroughly on the plot and character development. I had a clear beginning, middle and end. I loved what I had written. I loved the characters, the suspense, the adventure. I thought it was great.

But I look back at it now and I wonder “What was I thinking?”

It’s a bad book.

The writing is immature and the plot is rushed. The character development is good, but it could be better. And as for painting my world in vivid colors – it’s mediocre, at best, and bland at worst. When I look back at the book now, I have to laugh. Truly, what was I thinking, putting that out there for the world to see? Is this really an accurate representation of the skills I’ve been honing for over 10 years?         

I will admit that the book is pretty mediocre, but I’m proud of it. I’d talked about writing a book for years, but never found the time nor the courage to actually finish one. And when I did, I was more than eager to show it to the world. Albeit, maybe a little too eager.

Your Writing Grows With You

I finished the final edits of that book after my first semester of college. Back then, maybe I truly did think it was great, but now, as a junior, I look back and know that I could do better. I’ve grown a lot as a person since then, and maybe that’s why I’m so harsh on my own work. As we get older and experience new things, we grow and change, and our writing changes, too. The me as a junior thinks differently and sees the world in a whole new way than the me as a freshman.  College has changed me and thus, changed my writing.

Writing a book your freshman, sophomore, and even your junior year of college will force you to test the limit of your skills. Write a kick-ass novel with heart and soul that you can be proud of. Then, in two years, look back on it. You might hate it, but you’ll be able to visually see how far you’ve come as a writer and far you still have left to go.

Why Join NaNoWriMo?

November is National Writing Month and NaNoWriMo is a program that encourages young writers to write 50,000 words in one month. With this program comes a support group full of people who can help and encourage you to continue writing. Writing a novel can be an exciting and liberating experience that students should take part in at least once in their lives. You don’t have to publish your completed novel – it can be your own personal drawer novel that you never have to share with anyone. But I encourage you to join the Muncie NaNoWriMo community and let us help you on your journey to 50,000 words.

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