NaNoWriMo 2017 – Why it’s not Shameful to “Lose”

Happy December! To celebrate, I’m reopening comments for the whole month. Now we can chat again!

I love NaNoWriMo.

I really do! This was my fourth year in participation. In 2014, my mom approached me with a wild idea, and I took the bait. 2015 came around, and I couldn’t wait to do it again. In 2016, I tried my hand at historical fiction (as opposed to fantasy) and slayed.

(Little side note: that novel I wrote in 2016 later became The Girl Who Frosts the Cakes, my very first and very fabulous 1940s novel! It will be available in 2018. Check out the recently-updated info page here!)

On August 1st, 2017, I started planning my novel. I had a brilliant idea: four main characters, each based on one of the four seasons, are strung together in Europe for some misadventures. It was going to be witty, intriguing, and dramatic.

And the characters were even better than the concept! I had created them with care, all four of them, complete with detailed backstories and drastically different home lives. I had one from New York (autumn), one from Colorado (spring), one from Texas (summer), and one from Paris (winter). I loved them already. I couldn’t wait to bring them to life in my new satire novel, Criminals Love Sugar.

As I write this in late November, looking back on the month, I can barely recall writing at all. And that’s because I didn’t.

My final word-count for 2017? 3,027 words.

3,027 wordsCompare that to 21,000 in 2014, 51,500 in 2015, and the barely-made-it 50,000 in 2016.

I don’t know about you, but these stats are not something of which I’m proud. Especially if you look at it next to last year’s stats, when I wrote so much extra I could have taken a week off for Thanksgiving.

Above: my 2016 NaNo stats.

Am I disappointed? Yes. If I went back in time about a month, would I try again? Absolutely. But y’know what? I can come to terms with “losing” NaNo, if my excuses are valid. And they are, in fact!

A big reason I couldn’t write my novel this month: I’m still hung up on last year’s novel, The Girl Who Frosts the Cakes. It’s more important anyway! I need to get that novel out sooner or later, right?

The second reason (or excuse, but who’s counting?) is my general busyness. I hate tacking “-ness” onto already-existent words (it looks so lazy to me), but “busyness” sums it up. I went on a weekend trip on the third day of the month, then I had company over for just about the rest. And, of course, Thanksgiving issues came into play.

Maybe NaNo would be easier in a different month. Like September. But anyway:

Last year I wrote a post, You’re Still a NaNo WINNER, and Here’s Why. The idea was that, even if you didn’t quite reach the 50K (or you came 46,973 words short, like I did), you’re still a “winner” because you tried.

I wrote the post for a friend who had to stop NaNo partway through due to increasing stress levels. I can’t blame her – it is a stressful month for writers. Especially those of us who don’t have as much free time as one would like.

Here is an excerpt for you. You can read the rest of the post in the link below; it’s a good one. 😉

Allow me to get something straight: “NaNo winner” should not be defined as “finishing by November 30th.” Because are we losers if we try as hard as we can, but still fall short? Absolutely not.

Things that define a “winner”:

  • Agreeing to partake in NaNo (and following though, even if you’re nervous about that first day).
  • Having the confidence to give it your all.
  • Finishing your novel, regardless of whether you write “The End” in November, January, May, etc.
  • Writing during November.

Things that do not define a winner:

  • Writing 50,000 words in 30 days. (But if you still manage to do it, that’s pretty cool, too. 😉)

You’re a NaNo Winner, And Here’s Why

So, writers. The moral of this post is, if you’ve come short this month, come to peace with the “loss.” I put quotations because you shouldn’t think of it as a loss at all. Here are some things to remember if you feel bad about it.

  • Now you’ll be even more excited to try again next year.
  • You haven’t let anyone down. It’s all in your head.
  • You can cut yourself some slack.
  • It’s not a big deal.
  • Winning isn’t everything: it’s the experience that counts.
  • The “winner goodies” are about the same every year. You didn’t miss out.
  • NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a fun and healthy challenge – if it’s stressful, you’re not doing it right. And that’s okay.
  • Again, and I will emphasize this as much as I can: try again next year! It doesn’t hurt to come back for another go. And you’ll be more prepared next time, so you’ll excel.

And to those of you who did finish NaNo this year – Congrats, writer! I’m so happy for you! You deserve bragging rights. Seriously. That writing thing you do isn’t easy.

See you again soon, writer! I’m trying to make more time for blogging, I promise. Maybe our next post will be (gasp) Christmas-related?!

2 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo 2017 – Why it’s not Shameful to “Lose”

  1. Hey Sam!
    It’s good to have the comments up again! I did NaNoWriMo, and as you probably already know, I didn’t finish. I did write 11,407, but that was inside four different books that I tested. If the first one didn’t get approved, I moved to the next, ending up with four unfinished books! The fourth one was somewhat good, though, so I’m going to keep writing it! NaNoWriMo definitely isn’t an easy thing to do, but it really is fun, so I’ll definitely do it next year! Thanks for your encouraging post, I could definitely relate! Can’t wait to hear more from you!!!

    1. Hi, Aynsley! I just want to say you did fantastic at NaNo this year. 11,407 words? Amazing. Four different book ideas? Brilliant! It’s a great idea to spend some time doing trial and error to find out what styles and plots work best. Good luck on your latest story, girl! It’s good to hear from you again!

Comments are closed.