I Am A NaNo Failure

While my fellow writers were plowing their way to that 50,000 word goal by writing every day, I was doing what I pretty much always do…huge bursts of writing, then nothing for several days.  Which, yes, does bring the numbers up but does not make for a “real” NaNo win.  The purpose of NaNo (in my mind at least) is to reset our writing habits, to put our bottom ends in our chair every day until we’ve put enough words on the page for that day’s goal.  Not to continue our long time habit of procrastination to the last possible second, then pounding away to get works on the page.

This method does work for some people, and did work for me for a long time.  Until the gaps between those huge bursts of writing got longer and longer. A housekeeping analogy would be how much easier it is to wash dishes every day instead of plowing through the stack when one can no longer see the counter. Yeah, I carry that feast/famine habit through a lot of my life.

At 30,000 plus words and one week left, I quit NaNo.  Yes I could have made up the missing words and been a “success” but it would have been the same hollow victory as in the past.  This was brought home to me by another of Kristen Lamb’s wonderful  Blogs, this one about retraining our bad habits.  I can’t really say I saw the light but I did see a light, probably from mentally pounding my head on the desk.  And I realized, yet again, how we sabotage ourselves, as writers and as humans.

So, it starts today, and continues on.  Would you like to join me in this quest to retrain (**) years of bad habits?  The first step seems to be acknowledging those habits.  Done.  Next step is taking that next step.

Here we go…..

[I can’t sign off without acknowledging the writers who have helped encourage me to this point. If you have a chance, check out their blogs. There’s Kristen, of course.  And Terry O’Dell is always good for time management tips.  Instead of loading you down with more links, I’ll share them out. You’ll be hearing a lot more from me, one small step at a time]


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9 responses to “I Am A NaNo Failure

  1. I didn’t/don’t do NaNoWriMo. Because I am quite unable to relentlessly throw words on a page because my mind doesn’t work like that. I discussed this on Twitter with an acquaintance. I’d rather edit than write. I don’t like to face a blank page. I need to have a scene pretty well sorted in my mind, right down to talking the dialogue. (Luckily we have a big block so nobody hears me) THEN I can write fluently. However, I do try to write every day. That way I keep in touch with the story and the characters and the scenes flow more easily.

    This year I did NaNoFiMo with a bunch of other FB writers (that Fi means Finish) and in that month I did a little over 30k, in spite of a few distractions. No, it isn’t finished. But it will be by Christmas. Then in the new year the editing, fleshing out, polishing etc will begin.

    What I’m saying is, NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone and not ‘winning’ is not a failure. If it has encouraged you to rethink your writing process, you’ve won! Blue rosette on your lapel.


    • Greta, thanks for the vote of confidence. I did finish NaNo in the past but it really was a matter of nothing, nothing, nothing. DASH AWAY. Which doesn’t get things done, especially when my whole life has been that way. Part of the problem was I got tired of that particular story and really really wanted to get on with the erotic novella or the fantasy series. Challenging myself to write every day should make a big difference, and I’ve now issued a challenge to my very clever niece to the same goal.


  2. Trudy

    I do so wish you luck on this new venture. I’ve struggled with the whole daily word count idea, I see the sense of it now, but I used to kid myself that I could write in manic bursts followed by days of inactivity (procrastination!). It didn’t work for me.
    Kristen’s blog is one I’ve followed for a while, but I shall check out Terry O’Dell’s blog too. Thanks for recommending it.


  3. livrancourt

    I think you’re too hard on yourself. In the first place, I think NaNo is as much a dare for people who’ve always said they want to write a book as it is anything else. You’ve got that angle covered. If you’re like me, your WIP is never that far from your mind, whether or not you’re getting words on the page. I use the space between to work out the kinks, so when I do sit down, I get more done.
    Congrats on getting 30k words in 3 weeks.


  4. Don’t feel bad. Last year I did it in 15 days. That was before I had a blog, twitter, another book to finishing editing because my agent wanted it. Also, I knew if that I didn’t finish in the first two weeks it was unlikely to happen. My husband is working elsewhere, and he was due to arrive on the 14th. My MIL and niece a few days later. So no writing for almost two weeks. Ah well, at least I know I did it once.


  5. I’m glad I’m not the only one who failed this year…last year I blew it out of the water and was on holiday o/seas at the time….but this year, the interest, motivation, ambition, call it what you will, was not there for me. Maybe next year….it is a good way to reset our writing habits, I agree, but it’s still very difficult to change our habits when the housework, work, family, shopping and general life is calling to us all the time. A comforting thing for me – I have done before, and I can do it again….one day.


  6. Mona- you didn’t fail, you learned more about your writing style! I love naNo, but I know it’s not for everyone. However, I do think every one who tries it-whether or not they complete it- learns alot about their own writing :). So congrats! You’ve learned and can keep growing 🙂


  7. Mona: .
    You didn’t fail and neither did I. I have about 30K on the latest manuscript and I’ve reset my writing muscle. I finished NaNo last year when I was working full time. This year…nope and I’m retired. I wrote about the difference in my blog: http://www.mitziflyte.com.
    I do NaNo every year – just to get out the words. For me it’s like a good laxative. Did I really say that? 😉


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