Looking Back at NaNoWriMo

NanoNaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is over. In some ways, that’s a huge relief, and in others, it’s a disappointment.

The goal, of course, is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I’ve completed it some years. I’ve gotten close others. Last year I didn’t even try.

This year, I gave it a shot, but really didn’t come close to the goal. I ended up with about 35,000 words.

Given that I’m a goal-driven person who works well under pressure and likes to accept challenges, not completing NaNo feels like a failure. I beat myself up over how if I hadn’t skipped so many days, if I’d only done a little more, if I’d just tried a little harder, been a little more dedicated, etc., then I could’ve met the challenge. I chide myself about not being a dedicated writer and not making it happen. I get frustrated with myself for not being a “real” writer and treating this like a job rather than a hobby.

I especially struggle when I see so many of my peers having such great success. It’s not that I’m not happy for them (I am!), and I’m not even jealous, but it is hard for me to see the accomplishments of others when I seem to be accomplishing so little.

And then I have to remind myself that I accomplished a lot more than just 35,000 words this month.

I planned and executed a birthday party for my son. I attended an all-day birthday party for my nieces. I helped plan and attended a women’s weekend seminar at my church. I celebrated several other birthdays of family members. I traveled for Thanksgiving, dealing with five kids, in a car for long hours and away from home for almost a full week.

And that’s not to even mention the “normal” stuff I accomplish every day, like not strangling the aforementioned five children, staying caught up on laundry, making sure everyone has homework and projects done, making sure there’s enough food in the house and meals are prepared and served at somewhat regular intervals, attending church and small group and potlucks, running children to birthday parties and appointments, keeping a toddler and an infant alive and occupied all day, every day. Oh, and occasionally spending time with my husband.

So I just have to remind myself that writing, for me, isn’t my full-time job. My family is my full-time job. At this stage in my life, I can’t dedicate 40 hours a week to just writing the way many of my peers can and do. And that’s okay. This is the stage I’m in right now. This is the phase of life where I am, and I need to do the best I can with it. This is where God has put me and what He has given me to take care of, and as much as I would love to sit and write all day, other things need my attention.

So, all things considered, I’m happy with my 35,000. I feel good about my story and where it’s headed. I got to delve into the creative process and enjoy finding out what’s going to happen next, and I got on a roll, so I can continue with this story in the coming months. I’m a wife and mother first, but I’m still a writer, and I’m happy with that.

About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

4 comments on “Looking Back at NaNoWriMo

  1. For me…the perfect blog post! Just what I needed today. Thanks Avily!

  2. See, this is why I’m not keen on NaNo: “not completing NaNo feels like a failure.”

    Avily, I’m glad you’ve realized that it only feels like a failure. It is not actual failure. In fact, 35,000 words is a remarkable output at any time, but especially during a holiday month. (Seriously, who was the joker who thought NaNo belonged in the same month as a holiday? Why is this thing not in August?)

    I aim for 10,000 words per month, every month, and often don’t make it. So give yourself a hoo-rah for your 35,000 words and everything else. That is fantastic!

    • There are many, many months when I tally up a zero wordcount. I figure NaNo makes up for it. 🙂

      And I agree about NaNo being in November. It’s seriously the busiest month! September would be better. Or July. 🙂

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