I Lost NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo. Some of you might be familiar with it, some of you might think I’m speaking another language.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a massive group project. Every November hundred and thousands of people, some writers and some just trying their hand at it for a season, sit down to write 50,000 words. The technical length of a full novel.
If you can hit that 50K before the end of the month, you are announced a winner.
This year was my third year participating and my first year losing.
But let's first get the whole story.
You see, this November was especially busy for me. More than that, I was struggling hard with burn out. I was only getting maybe ⅓ of my word count per hour.
I managed to make up a really great word count. Thanks to the persistent support of some amazing authors in my community, and a lot of work, I managed to get within reach on the final day. I was tired, I was sick of the story, and I was pretty sure I’d made the wrong choice in which Raventree episode I should be working on next.
The final night, I came home from work and was staring down the barrel of 3,000 words. Not impossible, but it would be a rough night. I had a good start, despite by frustrations, and I was ready to push through. Instead, my husband and I got in a minor spat and my emotions plummeted.
I was tired. I was spent. And I didn’t even know if you was going to use the episode I was working on. It just wasn’t moving.
Seeing as I have a huge fear of failure, I could done what I normally do. I could have discounted my emotional health, and ignored my exhaustion, because good things don’t come without hard work. I could have worked my butt off, probably still not made it because I couldn’t concentrate, and then beat myself up for not being good enough.
Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity that I looked at what I was doing and thought, why? Why would i push myself?
I had completed my goal. Raventree Society Season two was finished and ready for polishing. I was happy with it, for the most part. Season three is over a year away right now. It didn’t need to try to force it out.
All through NaNo I reminded my fellow authors to take it easy. NaNo is, after all, for amateurs. Not in a bad way. But the program was designed to help push those people who say “I’d love to write a book, but I don’t have the time” to prioritize and accomplish a dream.
It was NOT designed for professional writers who were building careers out of writing books.
I’ve published multiple short stories, novellas, and two novels. I have another one waiting editing. Those novels are each 90-100,000 words. Double the NaNo word count.
Basically, I have nothing to prove. If it ceases to be fun, NaNoWriMo ceases to have any purpose to a published author.
I already know I can finish a book. And edit it. And publish it. I don’t need to drive myself to the brink to get a certain word count when those words might not even be useful in the long run.
No matter what dream you are chasing or careers you are building, there are many tools out there. Many tools, and many expectations.
If there is one things I’ve learned as an indie author, it’s that I don’t have to use all of those tools, and I don’t have to live up to those expectations. My books don’t sell thousands, fine. I have some great reviews and I’m proud of the impact they have so far. I might not have a social media presence on every platform. But I have a great time getting to know the people near me.
With each choice I make, I see how my own personal goals are being served. And no one else’s formula is going to work for me.
As I go into the New Year, I have decided that I will learn something from this NaNoWriMo. Instead of being driven by my fears of failure, and trying to do everything at once, I will take the time to think. Is it work the worry? Is it worth the work? Why am I doing this? Because someone else expects it from me? Can I be a better person and meet my goals better by laying aside a certain tool or expectation? If so, it’s not failure. I’m not losing. I’m building something better.
What are you building this coming year?