Ahhh December. The keyboard smoke from NaNoWriMo is starting to settle, and a second NaNo win under my belt. A vast sense of accomplishment fills me.
Not everyone likes NaNoWriMo for various reasons. Many I follow actually “failed” this year, and the NaNo definition of fail being that they didn’t reach the 50k. Over on Men with Pens, there is a great post on it. The author started, but then got stressed and started beating themselves up over being behind. Furthermore, they point out that a lot of writers go in it with poor expectations. They expect that they will have something editable and something worth selling when it is all finished.
Here is the best line from the piece,
i realized that I don’t have to “win” at NaNoWriMo to be a writer. I’m a writer because I write. That’s all there is to it.
That is exactly right. Personally, I like NaNoWriMo because it forces me to press myself. I “have” to write more in terms of both content and consistently. Also, in the year following a NaNo I have had much more consistent writing, editing, and continued to develop. So I press myself to do it because I know once the month is over, I will grow as a writer in the next year. Taking the key line though, that is because I write. NaNo is my way of doing it. Not a way for everyone certainly.
Another post on The First Novels Club speaks of another failure. Personally, I also hate calling not hitting 50,000 words a “fail.” To me its more like a missed goal. Anyways, the post goes on to talk about the usual pace and how their plotting is more consistant when they do a more reasonable, for them daily pace.
Note, they know their pace of writing! They know what works and doesn’t work for them. For me, that is what NaNoWriMo helps me find out. I know in NaNo 2009, I struggled to get 600 words out in a hour. NaNo 2010, I discovered over the course of a year, I had gotten to a point where I can pound out 1200 words in 30 minutes if I tried.
Now, 2400 words per hour is not a reasonable amount. I came up with a lot of crap writing at that pace. What that tells me though is that writing flows a lot easier than it did in the previous year. While my consistency is not quite where I would like it to be, takes me far less time than i thought to actually write something of substance. So a little time blog writing and a little time fiction writing, is perfectly achievable. So I would still consider it a win even if I hadn’t rallied at the end and made my 50k. I learned something about myself and my writing – and that is what I go into NaNo hoping for. That is a key difference though, I am not using NaNo to compare myself against other writers, but myself. Sure I use other writers to keep me going, but only as inspiration, not a judgement.
If you tried and failed, please don’t beat yourself up over it. Maybe you are like I am the other 11 months out of the year. Set some small goal markers and try to hit those. For example, now that NaNo is complete, my goal is to get back on track with this blog. Have posts written and scheduled at least a couple of weeks out. Also, spend 3-4 hours a week editing the novel I wrote during NaNo 2009. The novel from NaNo 2010 is being relegated to a trunk novel. May pull out and try to use, rework, or steal ideas from it later, but I just am not satisfied with how it progressed.