Help! I'm Failing NaNo

November is National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo or NaNo, for short.
I have, once again, signed up to participate in the event in which writers from around the world all agree to put their best foot forward and pound out fifty thousand words.

Judging by the amount of hits my last blog received, you know this. And you don't care.  And I'm fine with both of those things. 

Today's attempt to hit some semblance of a decent word count, er blog, will be in two parts. 

  1. Why I'm failing at NaNo
  2. Why failing is a good thing, what can be learned from it. 
There is a good chance that I'm only writing this blog post so that I can feel better about my daily word count for NaNo, which is abysmal-by the way, thanks for asking. There is a good chance that you honestly don't care since you may not have any common interest in what NaNo means to me (or other writers). There is a good chance that, like many of my blog posts, I'm using this space to practice things I've learned along the way, like using awesome rhetorical devices-something I picked up from the awesome and inimitable Margie Lawson. Seriously, if you are a writer and you have the chance to take any of her workshops, there is good chance you will be a better writer afterward, especially if you put her lessons in to practice.

So, let's begin, shall we? Alright, look. I get it. You're bored with me talking about NaNo all the time, right? Fine. Here's a video of a hamster on a piano for being such a good sport. 

Now, back to it. 

Why I Am Failing At NaNo (redux)
In short, poor planning and life.  Those two things are why I'm 9,000 words behind on NaNo's official goal and 22,000 words behind on my goal.

I came in to NaNo with a great story idea: A woman finds a digital recorder in a thrift store that hasn't been wiped clean. She falls in love with the voice on the recorder and spends the whole book imagining what it would be like if she were the woman he was writing poems to. And then, at the end, they meet. Is it a happily ever after? Who knows? And who cares? 

I was super stoked about the plot device of the recorder and thought I had something unique in that she falls in love with the voice on the recorder. It was supposed to be some kind of deep message on how technology shields us and at the same time reveals our true nature. Blech. 

Thing is, while I loved the whole digital recorder aspect of it, I could find no reason to give two shits about my main character. And then looking in to the standard structure of a romance, I knew this was going to be something else. Because of that, I knew I had to have a strong character as well as a strong character flaw for her to overcome (or not) in order to get the man.

I didn't figure any of that shit out until Day 11. ELEVEN! Seriously, blood coming out of my left nostril eleven. That gave me 19 days to come up with any semblance of a book if I had intended to finish NaNo a winner (I will, but more on that later). 

The other reason I'm failing at NaNo is life. I work for a retail company. No, I don't write full time...yet. Working for a retail company means one thing. November is hands down the busiest month of the year. This year is no exception. Time that I would normally take before work is taken doing system updates and installs. We're also rotating shifts at our warehouse pulling product, so my time after work is reduced and by the time I do get home, I'm beat. I won't say that writing is the last thing on my mind, but it's taking a close third to eating dinner and going the fuck to sleep. 

Lastly, I'm not going to as many write-ins this year as I did last year. I ditched my Columbus writing group and have been going full bore with the North Central Ohio WriMos as a writing group. NCOW is great. They have no less than 3 write-ins every week of November. But those are all an hour away minimum. This means I lose 2 hours of writing by going to them. Not to mention the gas cost (which I really didn't budget for this year). So that means I'm hitting the write-ins once a week, usually Saturdays. As evidenced by my word counts on Saturdays, those are very productive days for me, but they aren't five-thousand word productive days for me. 

Write-ins and writing groups are a god-send to a new (and seasoned) writer. Seriously, if you give a shit about your writing and you want to make it better and you want to eventually get it out in to the world, you need to find a good writing group.

To that end, October (and the first week of November) was all about getting a book ready for release. Finishing it, working with an editor, making changes and corrections, working some more with an editor, putting out a newsletter to promote the book, and finally getting it finished and to the point where it's ready for the world.  And it is. You can hop over here and pre-order my second book, Ovid's Folly.  

All of these combined in to a giant kerfuffle of 'dude, good luck hitting those words and feeling good about yourself as a writer.'

And now we come to the juicy bits.

Why Failing Is A Good Thing and What Can Be Learned From It
According to the robot word counter over on the NaNoWriMo site, if I continue at my current average, I will finish my novel (a.k.a. hit 50,000 words) on December 13th.  Or, I can type 2,149 words a day through the rest of the month and hit the goal that way.  Realistically, that ain't happenning. 

You know what? I'm OK with that. 

Here's why failing NaNo (and why failing in general) is a good thing.

It's illustrating what doesn't work. 

I prided myself for a few years on being a pantser. During some parts of the writing process (like this blog) it works. And in certain parts of writing a book, it works. But in going in to a month-long challenge with daily goals that add undue pressure to the already crazy process of writing, it does not work. I know that. I've learned it. Next year, this won't be an issue. Or it might be an issue, but at the least I know what the issue is.

I'm still writing every day, that's ultimately the point of NaNo.

Take this thing you love (writing) and do it every fucking day, man.

That's a pretty heady lesson for life. Seriously.

Take the thing you love, and do it every day. Even if it's only for five minutes.

That's the stuff that feeds the soul. 

And that's why I know my word counts don't matter this year. Because I've found something more important. I've found my voice. I've found my writing tribe. I've found my passion for a story again. 

Ultimately, that's what matters.

Will I "win" NaNo? Probably not.

Will I "win" at this thing called being a writer? You bet your fucking ass I will. 

Until next time (which in all honestly will probably be later today or tomorrow), have a great day.

And trust me on this one, you're going to want to scroll back up there and take another gander at hamster on a piano. It will change your life.

Much love,


Darrin said...

I do care. I guess I've just felt like I didn't have much to add. You are going through this process and are posing the right questions to yourself, coming to conclusions, learning from the failures, relishing the successes, setting little goals, strech goals, realistic goals. In short, you're doing all the right things and I am proud of you for that. I guess I just need to chime in a little more often and say so. :)

Todd S. said...

Thank you man. One of the things that really just keeps me going is knowing that someone is reading. And if it's someone close to me that I care about, even better.
Thank you. I love you, brother. I'm thankful you're in my life.

Failing NaNo - 4 Years and Counting

I looked, Dear Readers, and noted that the last time I saw fit to let the words fall from my brain bucket and onto these virtual pages was o...