Lessons from a (failed) NaNoWriMo

At the start of November, I proudly announced that I would be participating in National Novel Writing Month, a project where you endeavor to write 50,000 words in a month.

And like the last time I announced a goal to all of you, I failed.  I blew it.  Instead of 50K, I clocked in at just over 10,000 words.

So why did this happen?  Why can’t I carry through?  I promise, I’m not usually like this.  Get off my back, internets!!  Sorry, sorry, just feeling a little defensive.  But I do have some thoughts and things to try differently next time.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail

Without heeding my boy, Benjamin Franklin, I did not put together a writing schedule.  The first day (a weekend), I cranked out more than 2000 words.  This will be easy, I thought!  Look at me go!  I’ll just spend a little less time surfing the internet each day, and I’ll be fine, teehee!

Well.  It got harder.  The words did not just magically flow from my fingers.  And I realized that (hopefully) two hours of nap was not enough time for me to eat lunch, respond to a few emails, draft a blog post, and write 1700 words.

So to make it work I would have to (A) cut back on my blog posting, something I did not want to do, or (B) carve out time in the morning or evening to write.  Option B should have been palatable, but I just couldn’t stomach it.  I realized . . .

I’m still fighting feeling too scheduled

I wrote before that my favorite thing about being SAH is the breathing room.  I don’t feel rushed all the time.  Before, it was get Henry up at this time, feed him and dress him and spend time for X minutes, and get him out the door or James would get stuck in traffic.

Now I enjoy the flexibility.  I like feeding Mac and knowing we can just stare at each other.  Granted, there are other interruptions *cough* Henry *cough* but the time just feels different to me.

I absolutely could have made time in the morning or evening and still had plenty of time to stare at Mac.  I just didn’t want to.  I’m rebelling against schedules.  The pendulum was very far in the scheduled direction previously and now I am enjoying being way in the other direction.  I’ll get back to the middle eventually.

Mornings with Mac are still unpredictable, but they are getting better.  In the not too distant future, I’d like to have mornings where I get up, exercise, and spend some time writing before the kids get up.  And when I do, I’d like to . . .

Focus on writing time and not word count

NaNoWriMo picks 50,000 words as “a difficult but doable goal, even for people with full-time jobs and children.”  The idea is that you write words without focusing on your inner critic.  A crappy first draft is better than no first draft.

And I get that.  I agree that there is value in silencing your inner critic.  But I felt like I was writing just to get words out.  Flinging them onto the page to meet a tally.  I’d like to spend a little more time.

The word count also made me discouraged.  Once I got behind, it started to feel impossible to catch up.  I’d like to try more of the Jerry Seinfeld approach on motivation.  Don’t break the chain.   Eventually, I’d like to have a daily writing goal, even if it is just for 15 minutes.  That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up to more than 90 hours a year.

So we’ll see.  I’m not there yet.  Maybe I’ll try NaNoWriMo again.  Maybe not.  I didn’t get into the Berlin marathon like I hoped (sad face), but at least you guys won’t have to hear about failed running goals anytime soon.  Right now I’m going to just keep trying to blog every weekday.  This seems to be a good goal for me for now.

Did you NaNoWriMo?  How’d it go? 


2 thoughts on “Lessons from a (failed) NaNoWriMo

  1. maggie says:

    Even as a person who would be writing those words as a part of my full-time job rather than in addition to it, I think 50K words in a month is completely unreasonable. Assuming that you care at all about the quality of those words anyway.

    I think 10K is a rather substantial accomplishment.

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