I Don’t Know If I’ll Be Doing NaNoWriMo Again

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

The NaNoWriMo event is a writing challenge unlike anything else. It’s a whirlwind of 30 days where writers around the world attempt to write 50 thousand words. It is a great opportunity to write the first draft of a novel or to produce drafts of content for non-fiction.

I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo for the past four years.

The first year was a “just for fun” round where I didn’t really commit to the word goal. I just wanted to start writing daily again. So I settled at the 25 thousand word mark while writing from a random prompt each day.

The second year I wrote an actual novelette. I have never been an exceptional fiction writer, however I enjoyed this project. I worked on a prompt I really enjoyed and had fun coming up with different scenarios.

The third year was all about starting my blog. I wrote a lot of content plans and blog posts.

This year was my fourth year. I went into it having back to back wins. I got slightly cocky somewhere along the prep journey.

I didn’t think that I needed more than just a list of topics to write about.

I had a rough idea of a game plan. I wanted to post twice to Medium per day and redo my website.

However, somewhere along the line, I got more obsessed with the word count and if I could produce more or less per day.

Maybe it was the lack of planning but I didn’t post like I planned to. I actually spent over 14 days off the platform. I neglected my blog in an attempt to make a conquest based on word count alone. In short, I focused on the wrong thing.

I also found that despite various efforts to practice self care during the challenge, I wasn’t being disciplined enough to carry it out. I was writing over three thousand words one day and then not writing for 2–3 days. The days I did write left room for very little besides my work schedule.

I don’t like the way this month went. To be honest, I’ve never felt so broken down at the end of NaNoWriMo. While I used to be so relieved that I was close to the finish line, I don’t feel that this year.

More importantly, I overlooked and failed the big parts of my goal in order to focus on the little things that seem inconsequential.

I’m currently in the last five thousand words. I’m looking at the ways I failed to accomplish the things that would have made the most difference.

I feel more like I settled than I won.

What NaNoWriMo Has Taught Me

NaNoWriMo has taught me a few things that are of vital importance in my writing journey:

  1. That every story deserves to be told. If you’re a writer, you have worthwhile things to say to the world. Holding those things inside of yourself is a waste of creative energy.
  2. That commitment to the craft is key. There will be days where you don’t want to write. Those are the days where 500 words feel like a struggle. However, struggling is how we grow as writers. There are no shortcuts to mastering the craft. The key is to show up and work. While doing NaNoWriMo, showing up is a requirement.
  3. NaNoWriMo is good training grounds for discipline as a writer. When a participant misses a day or does less than the required 1667 words, the word requirement does not change. Which means, if a win is desired, the days missed require more work in the days that follow.
  4. Getting the editor to take a backseat. Making it to 50,000 words requires keeping your head down and to just keep writing. The editor that makes us feel everything has to be perfect the first time keeps us out of that winner’s circle. Silencing that editor is the key to original, raw writing. Write with the door closed on the critic, revise with it open. Doing 50,000 words over a month will help to get that editor out of the room, at least occasionally. From there it’s a training process. If you keep silencing him, you will get to the point where you rarely hear him.
  5. Questioning nevers is a good thing. Before I started this challenge I didn’t think I could do it. My mindset was that I could never write that many words in a month. The two times that I’ve won coupled with this current project have taught me otherwise. What other nevers do I believe I can’t overcome that in reality, with hard work I actually can?

For some, these five lessons might be apparent the first year they attempt. However, for me, it takes time to drive the point home.

Why I think this was my last year

I don’t think I’ll ever stop challenging myself in my writing.

Whether it’s creation of new topics, looking at things from a different angle or taking on content challenges.

I’m not opposed to challenges to create so much content in so much time.

However, I know where I want to be for the foreseeable future.

I still plan to count my words for the day and keep track. However, I’m beginning to see things more through a lens of pieces created not words written.

This year has seemed more stressful than the years past. It’s felt like a huge hustle rather than a project I enjoyed. Many times, it has felt like I was striving for an arbitrary goal.

My desire to become a better writer and to be dedicated to publishing high quality work was sacrificed.

This year, everything including self-care during the challenge felt more difficult than it needed to be.

Seeing low numbers was discouraging for me. However, what really bothered me were the days I created less than my piece goal.

Being a mix of a planner and a panster also creates problems with expecting a word count.

It creates a great sense of writer’s block that is hard to overcome. If I’m honest, I may have spent more time bitching about the challenge and writing about my crush than getting actual words that I could use in the future.

While it is true that I’ve created some great pieces while in the trenches, that wasn’t always the case.

So, for now, I’m done with NaNoWriMo.

Maybe in another two or three years, I’ll be in a situation where I want to get my hands dirty with 50 thousand. If so, I know where to find the project.

Today is not that day.

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Writer, wife, lifelong learner. I write about personal development, emotional wellness, relationships and lifestyle. rachellaangelpage@yahoo.com

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Rachella Angel Page

Rachella Angel Page

Writer, wife, lifelong learner. I write about personal development, emotional wellness, relationships and lifestyle. rachellaangelpage@yahoo.com

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