Losing NaNoWriMo

losing

Today I’m going to talk about a very real possibility. Instead of telling you about my word count in NaNoWriMo (which unfortunately is still the same), I wanted to talk about the fact that some of us participating this year might lose. It’s a possibility every year, one that sometimes I try to forget, but it’s real nonetheless.

But is there such a thing as losing in NaNoWriMo? Maybe at the end of 30 days you won’t be at 50k, but if you’ve written something I think that’s still a win. NaNoWriMo is all about challenging yourself, and sometimes the challenge gets the best of you. That just means next time you’ll be better prepared. I know a lot of writers right now, like me, who are behind.

It’s the 16th day. I’m only at 10k, so right now I’m looking at the end of the month, realizing I might not be at 50k like I’d want to be. But this month also taught me a lot about myself as a writer and also what I need to do in order to be successful next time. Win or lose, I gained a new book out of this challenge, so I’m happy to be taking that with me.

Failure in writing is one of the hardest challenges. We see it in rejection letters from publishers and agents, criticism (sometimes), and writer’s block. All these things that feel like we’ve failed in some way are real. They challenge us as writers (whether you’re experienced or not). They make you ask the question “Am I going to give up?” And if you can move past the failure and write again the next day, then you know you’re cut out for this line of work. It’s not for everyone, but if you have the passion it’ll drive you unlike anything you’ve ever known.

So yes technically at the end of this month if you’re not at 50k, you’ve lost in the eyes of NaNoWriMo rules. But on the other hand, you might have won something bigger. And I truly believe if at the end of this month you can walk away and start December out with the intentions to keep writing, you’re on the right path. You’ve got this. Maybe this year NaNoWriMo just wasn’t for you. Next year and the years ahead of that all hold possibilities, and every time you try, you have a chance of succeeding.

If you’re behind, don’t worry. Keep on writing. Let’s make the most out of the time we have left this year. You never know, you might end up having a weekend without any plans and end up catching up. (Or accomplishing more than you planned.) Take each day one word at a time.

Lindsey Richardson

P.S. I know I still owe you guys the post about hitting 10k in my NaNoWriMo novel. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten! I’ll be sharing that tomorrow, so be sure to check back in then.

NaNoWriMo: Day 8 (AM)

day-8

NaNoWriMo day 8. Word Count: 7,223. Words left: 42,777. Mood: exhausted.

If you’ve been following my NaNoWriMo updates or just the blog in general, you might have noticed since day 3 of the challenge I went silent (at least on the blog). In truth over the past few days this challenge has really been causing me all sorts of anxiety. And if you’re looking at my word count today you’re probably wondering how I went back instead of moving forward.

Where I was on day 3 with Frost’s Bite was not something I could continue with. I wasn’t getting attached, and I was having serious doubts. Such serious doubts that I wondered about trashing the idea altogether. And in a way yesterday I did just that. It’s currently 1am here, so when I’m calling this “day 8” because of it being technically Tuesday, it still feels like day 7 to me. And while my word count was originally to reach 10 or 11k today, I wrote over 7k new words. At this point I gotta take what I can get.

The hardest part about NaNoWriMo is once you start noticing you’re behind it leads to a lot of doubting and fears. That’s where I’ve been these past few days while also analyzing the story I chose.

So I kept my favorite character names and made a dramatic change to the story. So far the title has stayed the same (mainly because I don’t have time to worry about it right now), and a few character’s names have also stayed the same. The main plot I was rolling with before has changed entirely. I’m using my journal to write down ideas for later, and I’m hoping this huge change isn’t going to hurt me later on.

I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo last year because of my wedding, but the two years before that I wrote sequels to books I was already very familiar with. This year is my first time in a while writing something entirely new. And it’s quite honestly scary because at first everything goes so smoothly, and then before you know it you’re way behind the word count and stressing out like you never thought you could.

Today I know I made a lot of progress, even if my word count tells me I worked backwards. I’ve had a lot of support from writing friends and my husband. This challenge is important to me, and I don’t want to give up because it’s hard right now. It’s not meant to be easy, and I know plenty of people who are also behind on their word count right now. So instead of staying up all night just to hit 10k and then be pounding my head against the wall later today, I decided to stop at 7k and continue on later (once I get some sleep).

I guess the best advice I can give at this point to you (and even myself) is to know when to problem solve. If something isn’t working out address it right away. I made the mistake of trying to force the story because I had already dedicated words and time to it. But today I reached 7k (in one day) on a story that now I’m relating to more. One that I have more creativity with. I can’t explain it fully because it doesn’t make complete sense to me either.

Problem solve. Never let writer’s block take you out.

Wishing all of you luck! Here’s to hoping I can reach my goal tomorrow…

Lindsey Richardson