So You're a NaNoWriMo Drop-Out?

Monday, December 05, 2016
If it’s possible for one to get a failing grade for participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), then put a big “F” on my paper, because that’s exactly what happened this year.

I’m guessing a lot of you are just like me. We sign up in October, hopes high, dreams full of 90,000-word novels which will be fresh and original. We won’t crank out a mere 3,600 words a day. No! We’ll be more prolific than Nicholas Sparks, churning out 6,000 emotion-filled words in a sitting! Months later, having ignited the enthusiasm of our dream agent, we’ll land a contract with HarperCollins, quit our day jobs, and never look back.

And if you are anything like me, we stumbled out of November only 7,036 words into a new novel.

I’m sure you can agree that writing is one of the most rewarding and maddening tasks we will ever do. While there are times the words flow from us, churning and tumbling like beautiful music, more often we stare at a blank screen, procrastinating on social media, convinced that if we just wait a little longer, the ideas will finally arrive in droves. The worst part is, though, that when inspiration fails to grace us with its presence, we become frustrated – tempted to give up on our writing projects.

Despite my shortcomings this November, I’ve decided that making the choice to enter NaNoWriMo means I didn’t fail. Sure, I only managed to write about three days a week. Even then, I was lucky to get in more than an hour of writing before the distractions started. But I wrote, and that, alone, is a success.

Any time we sit down to write, whether we crank out a measly 50 words or a mighty 5,000, we are doing meaningful work. Writing is hard. Writing is time-consuming. Writing takes persistence. But it is our passion, and we love every hard minute of it. Whenever we write, we take one more positive step towards our goal, and that’s what matters.

So take heart, fellow NaNoWriMo drop-outs. We may not complete the perfect novel in a month, but that doesn’t mean we’re giving up on our dreams. Keep those ideas coming, and keep writing, because even one sentence brings us closer to success.

Bethany Masone Harar is an author, teacher, and blogger, who does her best to turn reluctant readers into voracious book-nerds. She hopes you’ll join her in this lofty endeavor.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Bethany--I, too, am a NaNo failure. And yet I am also a writing winner, because I slogged my way through part of my WIP.

Maybe we need to form a "special ed" class of failures, so we can support each other...

Good luck on your WIP, Bethany. And in the next year or so, I hope we both have finished the first (or second) draft of this NaNo "F" project.

Beth said...

Sioux - glad to hear I'm not alone! At this point, any writing at all feels like a win. :)

KAlan said...

Absolutely, Bethany! While I surpassed the 50,000-word goal of NaNo, this article explores why I am unhappy with the result. Death Imitates Art is really too good an idea to be rushed, and I am actually contemplating starting over instead of editing. If your 7,000 words were crafted rather than rushed, then rest assured you got more out of NaNo than some of us did. Lesson for next year!

Angela Mackintosh said...

*Raises hand* But I did write something creative that I'm happy with, so that's a win for me. :) I think I'm going to follow Sioux's advice from her previous post and do a DIY NaNo in a month that makes sense!

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo said...

7,000 words is a fantastic start! Any progress towards a new WIP is a winner in my book. :) Great post, Beth.

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