What I Learned by Failing at NaNoWriMo

I failed.


I did everything correctly. I publicly announced my intentions. I made a plan. I had accountability partners.

It was all part of my effort to join National Novel Writing Month in which on Nov. 1 participants begin working toward the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30. I switched it up and said I would focus on a rewrite of a non-fiction book, writing blog posts and writing two essays.

But then I didn’t follow the plan.

I’m not making excuses. I had reasons for not following the plan.

Specifically, a work schedule that included morning meetings, lunch meetings and evening events. No time to fit in writing. Weekends were scheduled. November is always jam packed where I work but I did not consider that when I agreed to participate.

I accepted my limitations and wrote what I could.

The month and my intentions weren’t a complete fail.

I learned a few things.

I learned that I need to be able to write in chunks. I am much more productive taking a half day or an entire day and writing for hours on end rather than writing for a half hour or an hour each day. Fortunately, I have several writing days planned in December. I can’t wait!

Establishing a plan and setting writing goals let me know what I need and want to write. I did complete a few of my writing assignments. Thanks to NaNoWriMo I have a list of the pieces I still need to complete.

I also learned that while I may be competitive in many areas, writing is not one of them. Writing for me is a solitary pursuit done at my pace. It didn’t matter if my accountability partners were happily writing away. That didn’t drive me to carve out writing time. I was thrilled for them, but I wasn’t participating to write more than they wrote.

If you’re looking for me this weekend, I’ll be holed up writing. It’s the perfect weekend where I have a chunk of time, and I know exactly what I need to write.




4 thoughts on “What I Learned by Failing at NaNoWriMo

  1. Catherine M. Petrini says:

    I didn’t manage 50K either. Still working today, but I won’t come close. I keep reminding myself that even if I get only to 25K, it’s 25K that I didn’t have at the beginning of the month.

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