And that’s it. The end of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for 2016. The aim: to write fifty thousand words in 31 days – a short novel from start to finish. For more information on NaNoWriMo click HERE. Those who ‘win’ gain glory and prizes – including discounts for writing software and editing, free eBook creation, and a free masterclass by James Patterson. Mostly it’s for the glory – the satisfaction of finishing the first draft of a novel.
This year my project was the third journal in Viola Stewart’s adventures – The Illusioneer & Other Tales.
Did I win?
No. I managed just over 17,200 words. Technically I crashed and burned on day sixteen.
Did I fail?
“But you only managed half the word count goal?”, you say.
“So what,” say I.
And here’s why:
There is more than one way to win in NaNo. Just participating – getting off my butt, putting pen to paper, cajoling my brain into production and not giving into procrastination is a huge win.
The week before NaNo, I had given into anxiety (What if I haven’t got another book in me? What if it’s crap?) and devoured chocolate in an effort to feel better. NaNo loomed. Two days to go and I wasn’t ready! Out came the notebooks. I dove into the internet, researching nineteen century illusionists, Victorian beach holidays and the Loch Ness monster (amongst other things).
November started with promise. I had a goal. I had a deadline. I was going to make it! Then real life happened. Doubts crept in. By day sixteen I was exhausted. The migraines started and I still had Supanova (convention) to content with. I tried to push through. I got frustrated, annoyed, anxious.
Then I remembered writing is like an iceberg. The reader glimpses but a fraction, the final product. There’s a lot more to a novel than just the final words on paper. The foundation is the important thing.
Once I gave myself permission to ‘fail’ at NaNo, I managed to relax. My migraine faded. The anxiety abated. I could think more clearly. My health improved. I wrote notes. Lots of notes. Clues required later in the story; plot threads to be gathered and finalised. I drew a map, vital to follow the action and make my life easier when I returned to work on the first draft.
If I hadn’t had those NaNoWriMo statistics staring back at me, I may have continued to wallow. I didn’t moan that I had a block or I was going to fail. Instead, I asked myself: what else can I do to help achieve my final goal?
NaNo was just one of many tools in my writing box. A way to get closer to my final goal. By the end of the month, I had completed more than one-third of my final goal – the third installment to Viola’s adventures. In turn, this encouraged me to start looking at the final book cover. I even got out of my chair and got some gardening done (yeah for exercise and endorphins).
So, how did I really do for NaNoWriMo?
If you only look at the numbers on my dashboard then, yes, technically I did crash and burn. But in my heart, I beat this bout of anxiety. In my heart, I won.
And that’s what really matters.