I Keep Failing at NaNoWriMo and That’s Okay

The format is just not for me

When November rolls around each year, writers lock themselves away all month long. Their collective goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. This is NaNoWriMo.

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s a “nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds — on and off the page.” Participants are tasked with the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. On the website, writers can form a community with local writers and writers around the world, track their word count, and they have access to a wide variety of resources and learning tools.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo three times since 2013 and each time I can’t make the word count. The main reason is that I’m a slow writer and it took six years to write and edit my first full novel.

I first participated in 2013 and I hit just under 15k before schoolwork, exam prep, and bad time management got in the way. I didn’t make another attempt until 2017 when I hit just under 15k AGAIN. This time it was simply self-consciousness and general writing anxiety that stopped the NaNo train. My last attempt was just last year in 2018 and I didn’t even make it 2000 words. I don’t think there’s anything to say except I just kind of gave up.

But it’s okay! Really.

While I love the idea of NaNoWriMo and the amazing writing community that it creates, the format is just not for me.

My time management sucks

In 2013, I had to prioritize my schoolwork. The term was ending in December and I had final projects due and exams to study for. Now that I’m out of school, I’m working at my day job during the day. The hours are subject to wild variety depending on the time of year and November is basically the pre-holiday rush.

So simply having time and energy to write is sometimes a challenge.

Hard and fast word counts are my kryptonite

The thing about having a set word count due by a set date is that if you fall behind, you have to do more work in order to catch up. So if I have a day where I only write a couple hundred words or maybe nothing at all, I have to write so much more to catch up.

Missing a couple of days is deadly unless there’s lots of time later to make it up. Suddenly I have so many words to do and less time and it’s a mountain of work! That’s a recipe for an anxiety spiral for me.

I have a very loose and free way of writing and trying to be organized with my writing usually works for about five minutes before it collapses. Right now, it’s trying to finish my first draft in less than a year. One month just doesn’t work.

While I’m super excited and happy for those participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I’m also here for those of us who can’t seem to do it even if we want to. Maybe one day I’ll be organized and confident enough to write a 50k novel in just 30 days, but as it stands, I think I’ll watch from the sidelines for now. If you write, you’re a writer; if it takes a month or even over a year to write a first draft.

To all of those NaNoing in 2019, I wish you the best of luck! To everyone else, keep on writing, you rock!

Writer || INFJ || Wellness junkie and chronic oversharer. jgoldsmithwrites.com/

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