Thursday, December 1, 2016

Reflections: NaNoWriMo 2016

As I reflect on another NaNo gone by, it’s hard to reconcile my joy of writing over twenty-two thousand words, and my regret at losing yet another NaNo—six now. I’ve lost six NaNos.

I’ve never even come close.

Most of the time, I don’t mind. I know I’m not a fast writer. I know that I’m more of a tortoise than a hare. I know that my careful attention to word choice and phrasing make for an easier time during the editing process. I know that I’ve completed two novels of way more than fifty thousand words (and one of those is almost finished being edited!), and that my writing life is more than November. But I feel like a loser tonight.

I don’t know why this year is different. I’ve always been super excited at whatever word count I could manage each of the five previous attempts. My first NaNo, I reached eighteen or nineteen thousand words and I felt like a whole new world had been opened to me. Each year I’ve managed to write a little more than the last. Except this one. I beat my average, but only just.

Perhaps this is the first year I actually thought that maybe I could do it, maybe I could actually write that fifty thousand. I’ve never believed that before. And I was on-pace (over-pace) that first week. It was an amazing feeling! Then the election happened, and I had difficulty summoning any extra energy to write. My creative brain was exhausted and listless. I wrote a few thousand words over the next week or two. Then when I finally felt a little better, we had company come in for Thanksgiving (wonderful people who I don’t see nearly enough!) and life was focused elsewhere. By the time they left, I had two days to make up the thirty two thousand word deficit.

Not happening.

I know there are people who can write that in a couple days; I am not one of them. I sat down and cried at what could have been. Then I went to a write-in and pounded out a couple thousand words. The next day I managed a couple thousand more. The end. NaNo is over. I want so badly to post that stupid winners badge. I want so badly to cheer, but all I can think is, “I should’ve done better. I could’ve done better.” But I couldn’t’ve. I did the best I could.

And that is good enough.

I’m super proud of the scenes I wrote and really excited about the stories and where they’re going. (I was a rebel this year and wrote scenes in three different stories this year…well, four, but I don’t know where that one came from—well, I guess I do, but I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere.) Today I came home from work, took care of the kids, made dinner, then got out my ipad and wrote more words. It’s not November anymore, but the writing doesn’t stop.

The stories don’t stop.

At some point my feeling will catch up to my knowing. Until then, I’ll keep writing.

And afterward also.

(And I’m sure I’ll sign up for NaNo again next year…)

1 comment:

  1. All the hugs in the world to you! I'm so sorry to hear you're having a hard time with not completing NaNo. I'm sort of in the same boat with my first year of attempting it. I have wanted to try NaNo for years and I was determined to write the 1,667 words a day to prove to myself that I can write. I thought I could do it. No, I *knew* I could do it. Like you, I was ahead that first week. Even the second week. But life caught up and the words stopped for me. Completely. I burnt out so badly on day 16 that I couldn't even speak for a couple days after because it exhausted me too much to formulate sentences. Then there was my Christmas rush to get projects done for people by December 1st and before I knew it, November was gone. It's devastating.

    I keep reminding myself I did the best I could, but it's hard to be satisfied with that when I *know* it could have been. If only certain things didn't happen or I could write 10K words in a day like some people.

    I'm going to sign up again next year, though. I wrote so much more during NaNo than I have in years. I'm going to tackle it again and not give up on my dream of finishing a novel. And I'm going to enthusiastically cheer you on because I can't wait to see your first book in print!

    And just remember, November really is a crappy month to try to cram in 50K.