Losing NaNoWriMo & IWSG

Officially, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. Officially, I was aiming for 50,ooo words on my new manuscript. Officially, I failed.

I always knew that 50k was a stretch goal — ok, more like an in-the-stratosphere, no-way-in-heck goal — but I was determined to try. I knew I needed a kick in the pants to get myself back into the writing habit. Ever since I finished my first novel this summer, I’ve been floundering. I’ve made progress in other areas, like building my online presence and finding a community of like-minded writers to surround myself with (which has been a game-changer, by the way; find your people — 10/10 do recommend). I’ve dabbled in flash fiction and a little poetry. Blogged a bit. Wrote some lesson plans. But I’ve not been writing on any major projects. The next novel, for example.

“You’ve written one book, yes,” Imposter Syndrome whispered in my ear, “but that doesn’t mean you can write another one. You probably will never have another good idea. You should just give up now. Also, you have something stuck in your teeth, did you know?”

The only way to shut that voice up, I knew, was to just start working on another story. I had the primordial elements of one floating around in my head, so I forced myself to flesh it out a little, and I planned to conquer the first half or so of the first draft during NaNoWriMo.

Things did not go to plan.

After a week of writing, I had about 5,ooo words on my manuscript, which wasn’t enough to stay on target, so I changed my goal. Now I would count any writing I did that supported my career aspirations.

After a second week of writing, I had about 11,000 words total, which STILL wasn’t on target, so I changed my goal again. NOW, I was going to aim for just 30,000 words instead of the official 50,000.

After a third week (in which I netted another 500 or so words), I officially gave up. Life was too full. I wasn’t going to make it. NaNoWriMo is dumb anyway. (Kidding. Mostly.)

It would be really, really easy to let myself get down in the dumps about not reaching that word count. It’s tempting. But then I look around at where I am right now. I’ve written a book. I’ve started another. And although I didn’t hit that outlandish stretch goal, I made progress this month! I’ve started another book! And I’m far more disciplined than I was last time. This one will NOT (notnotnotnot) take me four years to finish. This wasn’t a failure. This was slow and steady. The only failure would be to give up entirely, throw in the towel and say, “well, this was fun; see ya!”

I’m not sure if I’ll try NaNo again next year, but I know that if I do, I’ll still shoot for the stars. The worst that can happen is I fail as well as I did this year.


This post is part of the monthly blog-hop hosted by the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. On the first Wednesday of every month, members are encouraged to write a post about their writing life and struggles, and visit other blogs in the hop to network and encourage one other. If you are interested in visiting the other blogs or joining yourself, visit the website here.

Every month, the hosts of the blog hop ask a question, which participants are welcome to answer in their post or ignore completely. This month, the question is: “In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?”

The thing that stresses me out the most (but that also ensures I actually do the work) is deadlines. Either self-imposed or external, deadlines make me work, but stress me alllll the way out. I’m a veteran procrastinator (executive dysfunction, anyone?), and I’ll worry and worry and worry about a deadline for days, only to do the work the night before. Hence me writing this post at 11pm the night before the blog hop.

The thing what delights me most is when I get on a roll and I write 1000 words in an hour, just totally engrossed in the world and minds I’m creating. It’s the euphoric ying to writer’s block yang.

What about you?

6 thoughts on “Losing NaNoWriMo & IWSG”

  1. Hi there Abby, I understand the whole Imposter Syndrome thing, I have it bad myself. If you decide to do NaNo next year, why not look me up I’m the ML for the Europe: Ireland: Galway Region, and if I am still doing that volunteer job, I’d be glad to welcome you to our servers, and give you any encouragement that you needed, unless of course you are already a member and we failed you.
    You got words down, it’s a pity you didn’t add all three together, I do believe you can do that, one of our members was doing a series of short stories and managed to obtain her goal a day or two before the end of the month. Keep writing.

  2. I don’t do NaNo because I can’t structure my writing. I think the one time I tried (another time, I barely tried), I got less words than you do. Yet, I know I can dash out 50k words when inspired. That’s enough. Best of luck with your current published book!

  3. Sounds like you’ve made a lot of progress generally as a writer, even if it wasn’t all wordcount. Don’t lose heart. A lot of us felt like that in the beginning.

    Tips for faster drafting: time and experience as a writer (can’t speed that one up), using a plotting worksheet to hammer out the major plot points (try Jami Gold’s website for some great, free downloads), putting [notes to yourself in brackets] and moving on when your stuck. You can come back later and polish those parts up.

    Best of luck!

  4. Your comment about waiting until the last minute and then writing it all the night before (I’m a veteran procrastinator (executive dysfunction, anyone?), and I’ll worry and worry and worry about a deadline for days, only to do the work the night before.) is not actually a totally bad thing (except perhaps the stress of it). Your mind has been thinking about it the whole time (subconsciously) which is why you can just write it all down in one big chunk at the last minute. I used to do this with writing assignments in college. I’d do the research early in the semester and then crank out the paper the day before it was due. Perhaps not for every one.

  5. Hi Abby!
    I’ve never done NaNowriMo. As a v-e-r-y slow writer, the thought of 50K in thirty days is quite daunting. I prefer to write in short bursts, which is why the 100daysX100words challenge is my kind of writing challenge. What’s it about? You have to write at least 100 new words every day for 100 days straight – if you skip a day, then it’s back to Day 1. Towards the end, it gets quite tough… but I’d still do it again, rather than NaNoWriMo.
    Remember, every word counts. An extra 11 000 words are more than you had before writing those words. So don’t be too hard on yourself with regards to NaNo. Maybe it’s not for you…?

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