Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On Being Okay with Not Making It: My NaNoWriMo Failure

It was clear pretty early on in November that I wasn't going to make 50,000 words this month. Once that would have broken my heart and filled me with ugly angst. But I'm taking it, well maybe not exactly in stride, but in step, without stumbling.

Fitting my writing in around a full time job and family responsibilities, I usually write about 35, 000 words a month (though they may not be ALL on a single project). An extra fifteen doesn't sound so terrible…and I've done it before. So, I thought I could do it this year, too.

But there are two things I rely on to get the extra time that I didn't get this year: Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving weekend.

I mean, I still *got* those things, obviously--the holidays still happened--but I didn't get them for writing. I spent Veteran's Day taking my favorite veteran out to lunch, then taking my quickly growing daughter shopping to replace all the vital things she'd outgrown. Also valuable uses of my time, but not uses that add chapters to my novel.

And my parents came in for Thanksgiving weekend. Visitors are not conducive to writing large word counts. They are conducive though, to happy memories and shared laughter.

Couple that with going to a fan convention (three days of more interaction than writing time) and doing a Book Fair, and I actually had less writing time than is average despite it being a month with four extra days off of school.

So, that's all the reasons. And looking at them, I feel good about what I did get done this month, while still making progress on my new novel.

But that doesn't change feeling like I failed. I'm mean to myself that way sometimes, not cutting myself the slack that I would readily offer others. I ask a *lot* of myself. Still, I am *way* more okay with have a NaNoWriMo fail than I ever would have been in the past.

My 2017 has been all about trying to find the balance, after all. After pushing hard to put out three
novels in three years, I decided it was time to take a step back and breathe a little. I was burning out and losing the joy. So, I didn't write the fourth novel in my likely five novel series. Instead, I wrote a lot of short pieces, accepted a lot of engagements and opportunities to network and promote my work, and wrote a completely different novel (well, I'm not quite done yet, but I'm hopeful of finishing before I run out 2017).

And I'm getting there. Having fun without driving myself crazy.

So, I failed at NaNoWriMo. What have we learned?

I'm learning to say no…to myself.


  1. Love this post, and it doesn't apply only to NaNoWriMo. The take-aways from our so-called "failures" can be the most important lessons we learn. I'm glad you're finding balance and lots of love!

  2. Writing 35K each month is amazing. Many writers would kill for that kind of output, so please try not to beat yourself up.

    I've forced myself to finish five NaNos simply because I could not bear the thought of "failure." So I totally understand. I think that the pressure and those feelings of guilt and even shame are the reason so many people end up finishing. That said, I'm the only one out of my writing group who did. It's tough.