As November comes to it’s close, it only seems right to reflect on the NaNoWriMo that was. I’ll be honest. I stopped somewhere around the 23rd. I maybe could have finished all 50k if I had wanted, but it would have been some very late nights and long days to do it. But, that wasn’t the reason that I stopped.
In fact, my reasons were multiple.
I write fiction for fun. Because I enjoy the art and the creation that I do through writing. But, I also write a fair amount of non-fiction for my blogs. I have a few that I write for. Dedicating as much time to NaNo as I had for most of November, I fell way behind on my blog writing. And, at the moment, that’s the only writing I do that even comes close to earning me any money. On top of that, I felt like I was forcing the story and it wasn’t coming out right. So, I stopped. I’m not the only one.
I could have done several things. I could have counted all the blog writing I was doing with my novel totals and made one big total. And it would have likely surpassed the 50k mark. But, that didn’t seem right. At least by the rules that I had set at the beginning of the month. So, I settled for not winning NaNo this year. Far from condemning NaNo, I leave NaNo with a few lessons learned, and a new dedication to writing.
I also come away agreeing with Kyeli Smith, that I just might be doing it wrong.
If you find yourself writing because you have to write or you will fail, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re writing because you have to finish NaNoWriMo, because you have to win, because quitting means you’re a loser – your attitude needs tweaking.
If you’re writing because you love writing, because writing fuels you, because writing is what you want to do – well, you’re already a success in my book.
I don’t want to write because I have to. I want to write because I can. Because it’s something that I’m good at, and I enjoy doing it. Writing for writings sake, not just to finish NaNoWriMo.
Last year, NaNo was more of an exercise in getting 50k and “winning”. This year, I came away with a feeling of accomplishment in that I know that if I sit down and write, I can easily write 1000-1500 words an hour. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. But on average, that’s about it. I’ve also come away with a newfound dedication to writing daily. I’ve spend the last few days of November letting my brain recover from the forced marathon of that was the rest of the month. And then, recovery finished, I’m going to fire the engines back up and see what I can do. I won’t write fiction every night, but I will try to write every night. For at least an hour. We’ll see how that goes.
I’m also going to finish the first edit of last years NaNo novel. And add a bit to it to flesh it out. And, if it seems right, I’m going to begin querying it to agents. But, not until it’s ready. Which could be some time from now. But, I will finish it.
I don’t consider myself a NaNo failure, even though, by the standard rules, I really am. I think the real essence of what NaNo is all about is the creation of a habit of writing. A habit of creating something new. But, the real trick, the real winning, is in continuing that habit past November and into the rest of the year. Only then have you truly won NaNo.
Next year, I’m going to do NaNo again. But, I’m changing the rules. I want to express the habit. So, next year, I’m counting everything. Fiction, non-fiction, all of it. And, you know what? I’m gonna blow 50k away. And, hopefully, by doing so, I’ll relieve some of the pressure of the event.