50 thousand words within 30 days. The challenge is different for everybody and even the outcomes different every year. What makes one year easier or harder to complete? Does it only have to do with external forces: jobs, kids, family, responsibilities? What do you really have at the end?
National Novel Writing Month 2021 has ended and even without the in person meet ups, I feel more apart of the community than ever. 2021 turned out to be my best writing year hands down. I don’t know how I’m going to top this for my 10 year participation anniversary in 2022.
Everyone gets so caught up in the challenge of it all. On one hand that’s a good thing. It keeps you driven and working toward that 50,000 word goal, but at the same time it can also be a hindrance. When you start thinking you’ll never make the goal or what you’re writing isn’t good enough and your progress starts to wane. When you miss a few writing days and your brain tells you not to bother anyway cause there’s no point now that you’re behind.
That voice is wrong.
If I’ve learned anything through my 9 years of participating is that the heart of the challenge is to write. It’s not about reaching that 50K goal or in what time frame you do it in. NaNoWriMo is a tool to get you out of your own way and put words down. Whether you write 300 words or 5,000 or 45,000. That’s more words than you had than what you started with.
This year I wasn’t worried about word count, not in the sense that it was all I was thinking about as I was writing. As had been the case with several projects in the past. I focused on the story and how I wanted to tell it and more often than not I feared for the length of the chapters I was writing than what my word count was for that day.
I didn’t write every day of NaNo, despite what my graph might show you. But I did write several thousands words in one go sometimes just by concentrating on trying to finish a single chapter. At the Turn of Tomorrow sits at 56,066 word. A total of 9 chapters. That’s only 1 out of 3 parts for the entire story. But it’s 56K more words than I had last month or even two months ago when this story was all what ifs, ideas, and day dreams.
My only worry now is wondering if I’ll ever finish writing. I have several projects open and sometimes it feels like there’s no time to work on any of them. But that’s another thing NaNo helps you learn. When your pockets of writing time are and hopefully how much you can achieve in that time.
Did you win NaNo? Did you struggle and fall short of the finish line?
Don’t worry about it. Seriously. Don’t worry. Keep working. If 1,667 words daily is too much pressure then lower the number. Just so long as your butt is in that chair and your fingers are writing the story won’t have a chance to eat you from the inside out.
The work isn’t over until you type ‘the end’. (We’ll worry about edits later.) NaNo just helped you get there. It was one moment during one time of your whole first draft. Take what you learned about your novel and yourself and just. Keep. Going. Channel your inner Dory and don’t give up.
Until next year, Wrimos.