How Not to Fail NaNo When You… Failed NaNo

November 30, 2011

It’s November 30th. For most of us, there are still hours left in today to get those last words in, but if you’re anything like me you know that 20,000 you have left to reach 50,000 isn’t going to appear in one day. So, I want to leave you with some happy words, even if you’re like me and didn’t accomplish that goal.

This isn’t the first year I’ve “lost” NaNo. I’ve been doing NaNo almost every year since 2002, and nine years later I’ve only “won” twice. Not the kind of high percentage one wants to see, but over the course of “winning” and “losing” I’ve realized losing is not an apt term. You see, I wrote roughly 30,000 words in the month of November. That’s more than I wrote in the months of September and October combined. It also averages out to 1k/day which is pretty decent. Did I do what I set out to do? No. Did I fail completely? No.

So, here are a few important things to remember when you’re beating yourself up about “losing” or “failing” or whatever other negative word you’re hurling at yourself.

1. Do NOT beat yourself up. Did I do the absolute best I could in November? No. I didn’t. There were times when I checked Twitter or Pinterest instead of writing. There were days I let other people distract me from writing altogether. BUT there were times I resisted the urge to procrastinate, and I got words down. Words I didn’t have before. WIN.

2. You did something this month many people TALK about doing, but never actually do: you began to write a book. So many people think they could write a book. Then they use excuses like they don’t have the time or the right idea, or this, that, or the other. You, regardless of how far you got, put an idea into formation. You wrote a beginning. You created characters and plot and conflict, and many people are either incapable or unwilling to donate the time or energy towards doing any of those things.

3. Most importantly you wrote. If you wrote 1 word or 49,000 words, you wrote. You are that much further than you were on November 1st. You should never, ever belittle forward progress. Even if they’re crappy words (like mine), even if you end up tossing half of them out, even if you change everything, you got to where you are on December 1st by writing. Regardless of how much or how little, you are NOT a failure.

If you achieved your NaNo or FiMyFuNo goals, congratulations! You deserve a pat on the back and lots of cookies. If you didn’t make it, you’re no less worthy of that pat on the back. You did something. And that’s more than some people can say.

Nicole

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4 Responses to “How Not to Fail NaNo When You… Failed NaNo”


  1. Congratulations on coming out of it with such a positive outlook, and thanks for sharing said outlook with the rest of us!


  2. I couldn’t agree more NIcole. In fact I only blogged on similar lines earlier today 🙂

    I didn’t win this year, made it to just over 36K, before life intervened, but it’s 36K I wouldn’t have otherwise, so it’s all good 🙂

  3. rosellezubey Says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Nicole. i hope I’m not bragging, but I “won” NaNo. But I’ll tell you what, NaNo really took over my life. There may come a time when that “winning” doesn’t matter so much to me. When I read your post I found that I disagree with the whole concept of a “winner” if it makes people who don’t meet the goal feel like “losers” or “failures” Writing is hard enought to do without having those negative feelings on top of it. Great post!

  4. nicolehelm Says:

    Thanks, ladies! I know I felt a little more accomplished those years I managed 50k, but I also didn’t have a full-time job or a family to take care of those years. It wasn’t so hard to find the time.

    Writing is definitely hard enough without negative feelings! That’s why I’m always reminding myself any progress is positive.

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