Michael's Musings

Writer Wednesday: I’m Failing NaNoWriMo (and that’s okay)

(Writer Wednesday is a weekly feature I’ll be doing where I discuss my current projects, writing hurdles, and my process in general. This is the first installment.)

A while back I mentioned that I was going to participate in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). I decided to jump in this year for reasons mentioned here — but if you don’t feel like clicking through, basically it was because:

  • The very idea of writing 50,000 words in a 30 day period is terrifying to me, and I wanted to confront that.
  • I thought it would be good exercise for my creative muscles.
  • I wanted to give my inner editor a break for 30 days.

So, here we are, on the 21st day. How am I doing? …Well, if you mean “will I reach 50,000 words by the 30th”? The answer is a resounding no.

But! But, but, but. I’ve gained some great things. First, I am recharged — I’m writing more, if not enough to keep NaNo pace, and I’m excited by what I’m writing. Second, I’ve gotten to know some great local writers who I think will make great beta readers down the line. Third, and this is most important: I’ve learned that my inner editor doesn’t take breaks — and that’s a totally okay way of working.

If I can feel that my storytelling is off, or I’m writing something untrue, it’s basically impossible for me to just move on — even, as I learned this month, if I’ve set some arbitrary writing goal. It’s okay to miss that arbitrary goal if the end result is better work. Rather than struggle against my instincts, though, I realize that I ought to be embracing them, and appreciate that they’re protecting me and the stories I need to tell. They’re pushing me to do my best, even as they’re slowing my pace.

So, I won’t “win” NaNoWriMo this year. But I sure wouldn’t call this losing, either. I am richer for trying.

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