Failing NaNoWriMo: Lessons, Reflections and Where Do I Go From Here?

Credit: NaNoWriMo

26,056 words.

That’s how many words I had written during NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month in November. This year was my first time participating in the challenge. I always heard about it from other people who participated, but I never thought I had the time to really attempt it.

But, since finishing college back in May, struggling with the job search and having some time on my hands, I thought this year would be a good time to give it a shot. I could finally sit down at the writing desk my Mom gave me after graduation (used to be my brother’s but it was sitting in our house collecting dust and junk). I could finally make an effort with working on my first novel.

My writing desk

It didn’t go as planned, which was the blessing I never knew I would need from this experience.

The first week went off without a hitch: hit every word count of 1,667 words (this was the deciding factor for me to participate this year too), had a set time to write and I was feeling creative and good about things.

Then life entered in the form of this year’s Presidential Election and aftermath and the struggle of having to write on Sundays, which I never liked doing.

When I went to my first writing residency at Wellspring House this year (see previous post), I got about 1200 words out a day. I was still behind and found myself wanting to take a break and write short stories and other various things that were not related to my novel.

A couple days before NaNoWriMo ended, I settled for 25,000, and if I reached 30,000, that as great but I didn’t have to push myself. It wasn’t worth the extra stress, and I called it quits before the month wrapped up.

Focus on the notebook
Titled “Focus on the notebook” Credit:

The good thing is, I got 26,056 words more than when I first started. I also got to write again. But the greatest gift was my novel really wasn’t working out as I had hoped. One of my supporting characters actually piqued my interest more than my own main characters! I also found a hidden gem of a project compiling letters to God in to a small collection. I even found comfort and support from fellow writers on Twitter and from NaNoWriMo’s official Twitter and @NaNoWordSprints.

But I confess on the forums and in my own life, that was a different story. I left comments on forums but never got a reply. I felt intimidated and compared myself to those who were older and younger than me. I asked my church to hold me accountable, but that didn’t happen. I’m not sure a few weeks later if things were more positive if they would have made a difference at all.

I’m not sure if I will do NaNoWriMo again next year. The possibility is there, but I’ll just have to see where things go for me when the revision time begins in January, or “Now What?” as NaNoWriMo calls it. There were some ups, some downs but overall I enjoyed the experience and it would be something to reflect on and recall the next time I get in a rut over my writing. If I could write over 25,000 words in a month, I can do 30k, then 40k, and ultimately, 50k.

Maybe more than that too!

I will end this reflection with a quote from a bookmark I got from NaNoWriMo when I sent them a donation for Double-Up Donation Day to support their nonprofit programs: “Whenever we gaze up into the stars, we face the limitless potential of the universe. The only other place that offers such possibility? Your imagination. Rocket into the unknown, explore the vast reaches of your own creativity, discover the worlds that exist in your mind, and visit for a while to get them on paper.”

Happy writing all, and stay warm this winter. Godspeed.



3 thoughts on “Failing NaNoWriMo: Lessons, Reflections and Where Do I Go From Here?

  1. Oh Kristin! I love this. NaNoWriMo is hard. It’s fun and ridiculous and when you’re dragging your feet through 1,000ish words a day you began to think, “why did I want to do this?!” (Even cleaning seems more appealing). But to look back at the end of the month, it is such a writing high. Good job on writing 26,000+ words 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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