How to Fail at NaNoWriMo

How to Fail at NaNoWriMo

Yes, I failed at National Novel Writing Month this year. Well, I don’t know if “failed” is the word I should use, though.

I still managed to write over 18K words in the first half of the month. So really it’s not a total failure.

Maybe I should say I didn’t “win” NaNo. By the way, did you know a very small percentage of those who start NaNo actually finish? Yes, that’s right. Only twelve percent.

I can look at this in a positive way, though. I have at least given it a try for the last three years. This year I simply didn’t do as well as I could have.

How did I “fail” or not “win” NaNo?

Illness takes me down

I have been lucky. Really lucky so far this fall. Usually by now a sinus infection has taken me down by mid to end of October – at the perfect time that I am usually planning for NaNo.

I did get sick then, but I bounced back after a few days.

However, then the sinus infection returned a couple of weeks ago with a vengeance. Yes, sinus infection AND bronchitis.

Naturally, with a sinus headache, coughing, and fatigue, I barely made it through a day doing what I had to do. Writing took a backseat.

In fact, the last four days of the month, I sat in a recliner, coughed, and blew my nose. I know you don’t want to hear those gross details, but that is how bad I had gotten sick.

I could barely concentrate on the nonstop television that I watched those days. Let alone trying to write a novel.

Writing stops

So I just stopped writing. No matter how hard I tried to sit down and concentrate writing on my novel those nights when I felt lousy, it didn’t happen.

I stopped writing period. I didn’t stop thinking about the novel, though. I actually thought about it quite a bit during the last two weeks when I wasn’t writing.

I kept telling myself I needed to write. I needed to achieve what others had done or were doing.

But did it really matter what the others were doing? No, but I hoped it would push me.

Instead I quit writing.

Maybe there is something else going on? After all this is the second time I have started this novel. Yes, that’s right.

For last year’s NaNo, I started this same novel only with a completely different storyline – same characters, just different plot.

This is the third and final book of The Divorce Trilogy. I am anxious to finish it so I can move on to other things.

So what is making this so hard to write? I have no idea, but I wish I had the answer.

Life happens

Then life happened. This hasn’t been a great year for me. In fact, I can hardly wait until it’s over. That’s how bad it’s been.

Is that an excuse to quit writing? No, absolutely not. If I am a writer, then I need to be writing. Rob Parnell taught me that in one of his books, and it’s stuck.

When I first started writing in a diary when I was as a sixth grade nerd, it was a way to record what I did each day.

As I got older, that diary writing evolved into more of a journal in which I shared my feelings with myself. A way to vent and get things out that I needed to do.

Why couldn’t I write a novel then and use it as a therapy to get out my disappointments of this past year? I have no idea.

Final thoughts

Reflecting back over the last two weeks, I realize I gave up too easily. I took the chicken way out. For that I see not finishing NaNo as a failure.

If I was making a living writing, I would have to keep writing. I couldn’t just quit. Right? I would have clients and deadlines. All of those fun things.

Then, of course, the money. I need that money to pay the bills and have things needed for  life.

From now on, I am determined to write something every day no matter what. And next year when NaNo rolls around again, I am determined not to “fail.”

4 thoughts on “How to Fail at NaNoWriMo

  1. I know people who have been doing Nano for four or five years and never won, but they still wrote more than they would have, and enjoyed the fantastic community Nanowrimo provides.

    You should still be proud of what you wrote, and taking your “failure” as inspiration to start writing every day outside of Nanowrimo means you got the point. The point is to create, to be true to yourself and do what you love, regardless of what other things.

    Besides, there are plenty of writers who hit 50K and still didn’t finish their novels. You won’t be the only one still writing yours this month!


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