Keeping NaNoWriMo Alive (even if you quit)

exit-1444055-mI’m a loser.

Yep! There is officially no way for me to make my 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month unless I start pulling double shifts between now and the end of the month – and by double, I mean writing for eight hours during the day, stopping for a microwave dinner, and continuing on until midnight. As much as I want the title of “winner”, I also want a life. 🙂 I had too many mom/author/friend commitments that I had to fulfill, and with NaNo, if you miss too many days, you ain’t makin’ it up. Sure, I could start cranking out thousands of words of marginal prose to make the deadline. But I would rather not do that much editing on the backend. Whatever I finish needs to be close to ‘publication ready.’

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on NaNo. Au contraire! I’ve just given up on the word count requirement of NaNo. I “won” NaNo in 2009 and basically, you end up with a piece of paper. No prizes, no fanfare. The REAL prize is your finished product: a completed manuscript, if you can call a haphazardly plotted story with windy passages of exposition and meaningless dialogue (“good morning, how are you today, it sure is nice weather”) completed. 🙂

I came to this conclusion yesterday after a particularly “NaNo” kind of day. I work from home, so I basically sat for hours on end with my fingers on my laptop (okay, I took a few breaks – I don’t want leg problems). My poor dogs sat at the window and looked out into the backyard, wanting to play. But I didn’t have time to go out with them, so they stayed inside (I have a digger – she has to be supervised!). I phoned in homework help to my child, paying only half attention to her questions. At dinner, I rushed around the kitchen, shouting at my husband while I was throwing things in the microwave (because I was late to critique). Then I sat down to eat before leaving – I had about 10 minutes to do so – and spilled an entire glass of iced tea on my food because I was rushing yet again. Lots of running around and yelling. I don’t admit these things lightly. I feel like I dropped the ball yesterday, family-wise, and I apologized over and over at the end of the evening. But you can’t unring a bell.

And then I stepped back and realized that something that was supposed to be personally fulfilling (i.e., the act of writing and creating), had taken a VERY stressful turn. It’s not hard to get there in this business of publishing, especially when you hear other indie authors bragging about selling a 100 books a day and buying cars with their take-home cash (and then griping because they can’t quit their day jobs or they haven’t hit some list or whatever). It also doesn’t help that I’m perpetually stuck in 5th gear, even at 5 miles an hour. Type A personality is a blessing; Type A personality is a curse. Oy.

Anyway, bottom line is this: as long as I end November with a finished book – my WIP, The Black Cats – I will have won. Even if that means I “only” typed 25,000 words. Because at the end of the month, I will have both my sanity and a completed project. This reminds me of the Prince song where he sings: “Party like it’s 1999.” Well, I’m going to “write like it’s NaNo.” During the day, I will keep typing with ridiculous NaNo warp speed. At night, I will downshift to plain old mom. And really, what’s wrong with that?

If you’re struggling to make word count and are thinking of ditching the whole program, go ahead. GO RIGHT AHEAD. But don’t leave the work or the passion behind. Get thy butt to the computer chair and write with the wind at your back and the fire of completion in your heart.

Now what are you waiting for? Finish your book! (but with your nerves intact)


How about you, dear readers? Quitting NaNoWriMo? Making good on your word count and want to brag about it here? I’m listening!


2 thoughts on “Keeping NaNoWriMo Alive (even if you quit)

  1. NaNo is about unleashing the creative person inside. If we focus on the end number, e.g. 50k words, then we’ve lost the point. It’s about creating. I love NaNo because I realized I can write a book. But, most importantly, I CAN FINISH WRITING A BOOK! That’s the genius of NaNoWriMo. Beginning and ending a manuscript. WHEN you finish The Black Cats, then you’ll have won by being a NaNo Rebel. (-=

    I look forward to reading The Black Cats. Now back to my writing/editing. The siren call of NaNo is beckoning and it sounds awfully like my phone saying NaNoWordSprints are running.

    • Great points. It’s really about finishing, not starting. But isn’t that the gist of life, too? To finish what we started? I’m ready for the end of my book. It’s three chapters away and I can taste it!!!

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