Hello all! I’m back from an unintended month-long rest. The main reason I haven’t been blogging is that I’ve been concentrating on something else for the past 30 days.
This month I did the same thing that thousands of other writers did around the world – National Novel Writing Month. Today I’m going to be talking specifically about Nanowrimo disappointment rather than all the success stories you see.
For those who have been living under a rock in the writing world, Nanowrimo is the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel (or part of a novel) in 30 days. You have to do around 1,667 words a day which may seem like a little or a lot, depending on your usual output.
For me, it’s a lot. I’ve tried Nano in the past with the knowledge that I will definitely not hit 50k, and have aimed for 20k instead – so as not to set myself up for disappointment.
This time around, I thought I’d be able to hit 50k because I’ve had a good writing year (e.g. writing almost every day rather than once every two months). So I thought, maybe, just maybe I’d be able to hit 50k or close to it this time around.
However, I didn’t. I finished with 30k instead.
So why celebrate Nanowrimo disappointment?
Yes I’m disappointed. It would have been wonderful to hit 50k.
However, for a change, I’m trying to think positively about my writing. I didn’t fall flat on my face and end up with 500 words. I made a good go at it and wrote a hell of a lot more than I usually manage in 30 days. So, that’s what I’m celebrating.
The good thing with Nano is you can get something positive out of it even if you don’t hit the target. Part of my attitude towards this has come from the Twitter #writingcommunity.
There are a few people on there saying “yay I hit 80k”, leaving you looking at your own work in confusion and frustration. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others – but there are also a lot of people being honest about their slightly smaller writing output. And honestly, I think it helps you feel a little less shitty about your own work.
So, if you’re not already getting involved with the writing community on Twitter – head over there! If you’re already on there – thank you, you’re a wonderful community.
In the meantime, if you’re like me and feeling a little disappointed, I’ve got some key points for you to think about that I hope will help.
You wrote something
This is the mantra I’ve been reciting to myself for the past month. I wrote something – in fact, I wrote a lot more than I’d usually write in a month. I also wrote every day, which is something I’ve never been able to keep up.
This is a success. I didn’t hit a target but I surpassed my writing resting point if you like, and I got more words out of the month. This means I am moving forward towards my goal of having something published.
If you wrote more than you usually do – then this is a win, no matter what your word count is.
You tried something different
While a lot of people, the Nano rebels out there, have used Nano to finish a book, rewrite or edit and so on, most people will have taken the opportunity to start something new.
I’ve been working on the same novel for a few years and this November I started a new project to give my other one a bit of breathing room before I go in hard with the edits.
Starting something new is always an interesting (terrifying) experience. I think over the past couple of years, I’ve learned a lot and I’m applying those lessons to this new WIP. I’ve started in a better way than I started my last one.
I think it’s important to step away from something to start something new and Nano is a good opportunity to do this.
You pushed yourself
There are two ways this can go. You can push yourself and achieve more than you would’ve originally. Or you can push yourself and let stress overcome you and you’ll end up running into a writing wall.
Whatever way you usually go down, I still think pushing yourself can do you some good.
Pushing yourself gets the creative muscles moving so they don’t get all stiff. It helps you to achieve more and do better next time. Perhaps this disappointment will spur you on to hit the target next year.
The downsides of Nano
If you’re still disappointed, I’m going to be honest here and say that Nanowrimo is simply not for everyone. Everyone raves about Nano and I think it’s a good thing to try and would definitely recommend it. However, there are some real downsides.
You’re probably beating yourself up
Naturally, we are our own worst enemies. We’re kicking ourselves for not meeting the target, looking at all the things we did wrong.
If you’re like me, sometimes this can lead to inaction, fear to try new things. Depression sets in and honestly, is it worth it for a few extra thousand words, quicker than you’d usually have them?
If you’re stressed, you don’t have to do Nano. You just don’t.
Your mental health is so much more important. If you burn out and drive yourself crazy, then you’re going to struggle to carry on after the 30 days are up. Nano is meant to be about pushing yourself and developing new habits.
Writing is meant to be fun
I’ve got to be honest again, Nano isn’t 100% fun. In fact, it can be a real slog. If you’re not getting enjoyment out of something that is meant to be fun and enriching, then why do it?
You don’t want to make writing a chore, like going to work. Don’t pull the fun out of it just yet. Because then it makes the whole thing much harder to keep up.
At the moment, I haven’t written anything since November 30th because I want a break. So all those dreams about me turning this into a lifelong habit are just not realistic – for me at least.
So, be honest with yourself. Are you sacrificing your future writing for a big boom now?
Good luck with the editing
Another thing is that the editing on this is going to be a real struggle.
When I’ve done Nano, I’m very conscious that I am writing really really badly. I know first drafts are allowed to be shit but oh god…the editing I’ll have to do with this because I’ve drawn everything out to make the word count. I’m scared to look.
Why did I miss the word count?
So, why didn’t I meet the word count? Did I have an emergency? Did I rescue a bunch of kittens or save a child from a burning building? No, of course not. If anything, that would’ve given me some inspiration.
The reality is – I work full time as a writer, I’m a freelance writer on the side and I also write for 2 blogs including this one.
Sometimes, when I come home, I don’t want to write anymore. I do it all day. Fuck words.
I particularly find writing at the weekend difficult because I just want to be lazy, watch Netflix or go out somewhere. It’s important to have time to be lazy I think. I’m guilty of thinking that I constantly need to do something productive or the sky will fall down. Other times you’ll find me unable to move from my sofa.
I have good days and bad, is what I’m trying to say, and I will never be able to guarantee a good 30 days in a row.
I’m not saying this to make excuses, I could have still done it but I chose not to. Do I regret it? A little yes but at the same time, I think it’s important to not be so hard on yourself. Push yourself sure, but not to breaking point.
Will I do it again next year?
While I’m happy with my word count, I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll do it again. I don’t regret doing it at all but I am weighing up whether it’s worth it. I think I need to be honest with myself about why I’m doing it and what I want to get out of it.
50k is manageable for many people – hats off to you who passed the finish line, it’s a massive achievement and you should be proud of yourselves. But I don’t think Nano is for everyone.
Did you take part in Nano or give it a miss? What were your reasons either way? Please pop your thoughts in the comments below.