First of all, a big congratulations to everyone who completed NaNoWriMo! Seriously, well fucking done.
So you may remember at the beginning of the month I wrote a blog post all about challenging yourself and so I tried to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. Well, spoiler alert I “failed”. But I don’t feel like a failure and I think that’s because of how I measured success.
As I was working on this project I defined success as simply having something (anything) to show at the end and writing every day. I certainly have created something: an incomplete, messy, objectively bad something. But something.
As for writing every day, well I nailed that until just over half way through the month. It didn’t matter how much I wrote just that I spent the time to write each day. My average was around 900 words a day. In order to hit 50,000 words you need to write 1,667 so I was nowhere near reaching that but still I wrote something.
One of the things I learned about writing was that even if I cleared my whole schedule and had a full day to write the most I could do was 3 hours until my brain shut down. Turns out I had a very relaxing first half of November. Because I pre-filmed videos and pre-wrote blog posts I didn’t have a lot of work to do. But turns out I didn’t need to save myself that much time. November was good, days were spent writing for a few hours and then chilling out, working on myself and maybe playing some Civilization VI…
My main motive to do NaNoWriMo wasn’t to write a novel but to escape this motivational funk I was in. And it worked. By allowing myself time to relax without punishing myself for not being productive I’ve managed to find that spark again. I’d call that success.
19th November was the last day I wrote anything. The total word count for my novel sits at 17,446. I stopped because I was bored, I got ill and I had other work to do.
I’d taken other writers’ advice and not bothered writing chronologically instead just writing the bits that excited me first. I wrote the beginning and then I kept jumping around to different scenes that contain key moments in the narrative. Once that was done, I got bored. I didn’t really have the motivation to fill in the gaps, I didn’t really know what those gaps were.
2) Being ill
The evening of the 20th I started feeling awful then for the rest of that week I was a useless lump of snot and headaches. I did the bare minimum I had to with work to get by but mostly I let myself recover. At university I always ploughed through my colds and fevers never letting myself rest. As a result, I was always ill. One of the “adult” things that I do now is allow myself to really recover. You gotta look out for number 1 (me).
3) There’s work to be done!
Early/mid-November wasn’t very busy. End of November, holy balls, there is lots to do! I’m doing Vlognukah again this year where I make 8 videos for the 8 days of Chanukah but Chanukah is earlier this year. I’m away in Manchester and then New York at the beginning of December and then Vlognukah begins! So end of November has been prep for that. Lots of filming, editing and scheduling. Fun times.
And so I stopped writing and I feel fine. I don’t feel like a failure. I don’t feel that sense of doom of having not completed something. Maybe I’ll come back to my shoddy manuscript in the future and try and make something out of it. Right now I’ve got other things to focus on.
So technically I failed NaNoWriMo but I got exactly what I needed out of this month. So here’s to measuring your own success!
I would love to hear in the comments how NaNoWriMo went for you if you tried it or about any other times you’ve failed at something but not seen it as a failure.