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Why I Failed NaNoWrimo 2017

Saturday, December 16, 2017





I failed NaNoWrimo 2017 on my first try. Yes, you read that right.

In case you are unfamiliar with NaNoWrimo, the goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words over the month of November. Currently my project “Alyssa’s Nightmare” has around 1,000 words written.

I know what you’re thinking. Wow Shelby that’s really under the mark. Trust me, I know, and I’ve beaten myself up over it a million times over the past month and a half. Since I’m trying to avoid the never ending cycle of calling myself a bad writer (it’s not good for my confidence), I’ve decided to reflect on exactly why I failed NaNoWrimo this year.

The sad truth is I thought I was 100% prepared.
I did every character building worksheet I found on Pinterest. I wrote out the entire plot of the novel with it split into chapters. I did world building, antagonist worksheets, inspiration writing, and tucked it all away neatly in a file folder. I almost broke the rules and wrote the opening in October 31st . But when it came time to do the actual writing, I froze.

When I wrote my opening chapter, I thought it sounded like garbage. Deep inside my writer heart, I knew it wasn’t right. The spontaneous creative side of me keep saying, “Don’t worry. We can fix it in editing. You’ve got plenty of words to go.” So I tried moving on. I tried to write another chapter using my notes, but I still went back to the first “bad” section. This killed what little inspiration I had to write fiction.

Before I go deeper into the anxiety aspect of my failure, I want to make something clear. I don’t write fiction often. I can come up with ideas and stories, but somehow I can never get the words from my brain on the page. This is why I choose to write nonfiction essays the majority of the time. I know the story and the characters; I only have to decide in what order the events need to go in to make the story relatable. My writer heart lies in nonfiction and it has since I was a freshman in college. Choosing to not stay true to that and write fiction for NaNoWrimo was my worst mistake. But I didn’t and still have no idea, how to write enough nonfiction essays to fill 50,000 words. Especially since writing a memoir is out of the question (I’m only 22).

Once I had the failure of writing inspiration, my word count became nonexistent. I would try to write a 100 words here and there to attempt to make the daily goal of 1,877 words. The failure of not writing put me in a state of anxiety and procrastination where I couldn’t write another word because I was so far behind. Instead of the pressure pushing me to do better, pressure shoved me in a closet, stole my inspiration, and ran off with the key that I’m struggling to find now.

The final and saddest reason why I failed NaNoWrimo is I haven’t been writing regularly. The overwhelming guilt of this fact forced me to find a solution, so when I had a spark of inspiration and saw November was around the corner, I ignorantly thought NaNoWrimo could save my lack of writing life. However, instead of saving my writing life, I pushed it farther away.

I have to face the consequences of that now.

With all of my blog posts, I try to leave some form of wisdom that anyone could take away (especially since you read through this pity party lol).

Trust your writer heart. You know what’s right for you. Yes, it’s okay to take risks, but don’t run before you ever walked.

Congratulations to anyone who successfully completed NaNoWrimo this year. I’m incredibly proud of you. To anyone that failed, don’t be too hard on yourself. There’s always next year.

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