NaNoWriMo and Losing

by Amanda Linehan on December 5, 2013

in Writing

November is over. Novels (or parts thereof) have been written, and though I did participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time since 2009, I did not repeat my previous “win” from that year. (Previous NaNoWriMo 2013 posts here and here.) No big deal though, there was plenty that I got out of it.

  1. I wrote 37,955 words of my novel, North (working title for now, may actually be the title when all is said and done). This is more than I would have written in a typical month so that’s cool. Nothing like a little outside motivation to get you moving a little faster.
  2. Writing without any written plans/notes/outlines turned out great. I really like this way of writing, and though there were a few places where I slowed down, I didn’t really get stuck anywhere. I think this will continue to be a part of my writing process in the future. NaNoWriMo is great for experimentation.
  3. Lastly, I really enjoyed participating in write-ins with other NaNoWriMo participants. And I also resurrected my participation in the local writing group I belong to (since the write-ins were organized through that group), so I think that’s two birds with one stone.

I will admit to being a little bummed when I realized that I was slowing down and didn’t think I’d be able to catch up by November 30, but I just weighed my options. Push myself forward to get it done and maybe cause myself some unnecessary stress, or let go ¬†of the “win” and just see how far I could get.

While I was thinking this all through, it occurred to me that “winning” NaNoWriMo or not doesn’t really come with any consequences, positive or negative. If you “win,” you get the personal satisfaction of reaching a goal and achieving something (which is not necessarily a small thing), but nothing else. And, if you lose, nothing happens either. So, in the end, I just let go of the 50,000 word mark, knowing that I would finish the novel anyway. And if completing the draft happened in December or January, no big deal.

I think next year, I may not push myself towards the 50,000 word mark at all. I think I may just set up a writing schedule and see how close I can get using my own natural creative/writing rhythms. That will be a good experiment. :)

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