WriMo Writers CONFESS!: When Winning Looks Like Quitting

WriMo Writers CONFESS!: When Winning Looks Like Quitting

WriMo Writer’s Confess is a collaborative blog project dedicated to venting, discussing, and all manner of respectful complaining about the challenges introduced by writing a novel in a MONTH.

For those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, here’s the rundown:

National Novel Writing Month organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. Our programs are web-enabled challenges with vibrant real-world components, designed to foster self-expression while building community on local and global levels.

In other words, you write 50,000 words in a month, and if you finish the novel, HURRAY, you’ve won! This is roughly 1,600 words per day, which seems easy enough, right?

Depends. This WriMo Writers Confess Series is here to highlight those frustrating aspects of writing anywhere from zero to thousands of words in a day, for thirty days.


 

Some might say I quit NaNoWriMo.

But me? I would say I quietly and unceremoniously looked away from my NaNo project and diverted my attention elsewhere.

This is the ‘thing’ about NaNo. There are no technical losers, because the simple act of participation gets at the heart of what it’s about — writing consistently. We’ve heard enough writers harp on this aspect.

But even still, I felt both guilty and like I’d somehow failed. Not necessarily about my writing project — which I’ve definitely shelved, without any feelings of guilt — but about the writing practice part. Writing consistently, daily, no matter what.

Everybody has their own reasons for abandoning a NaNo project, and I don’t discredit anybody for needing to yield to real life. I had to do the same this year. Between moving houses across a foreign country and taking on extra freelance work in order to pay the bills, writing unfortunately took a back seat.

And I felt bad for it. Because the whole point of the NaNo project, for me, wasn’t even about finishing this weird, sci-fi, out-of-my-comfort-zone story, OR getting it published. Rather, it was about the daily word count, about showing up to the mat in order to get WRITING DONE.

I didn’t pull through.

But along the way of my quiet looking away, my “I haven’t quit yet I just haven’t written on it in over a week and have no plans to continue”, something else happened.

I got sideswiped with inspiration for a fledgling work in progress that I had told myself would wait until post-NaNo. Another romance novel — this time in the uncharted territory of New Adult — clamored for attention in my headspace. Work on me, it screamed, chucking plot twists and character details at me like bricks to the head.

So I did. I had to. Suddenly, everything was so clear with the new project. This New Adult romance novel, which had come to me in a dream over the summer, was now READY to be worked on. I had protagonist backgrounds, I had thematic elements, I had a healthy cast of witty and just-starting-their-careers characters with all sorts of bumbling, new adult sort of things to tend to!

And my oh my, have the words been flowing!

It’s still November, so I feel like this counts as NaNo’ing. But my original NaNo project has been quietly yet safely relegated to the background of my hard drive. I might pick up the original NaNo project sometime down the road; hell, I might even finish it before November’s over. Okay, I doubt it, but like I said, I haven’t ‘quit’ officially, so there’s still a chance I could work on it.

More important than the final word count of the original NaNo project is the following: I plugged away at it for a solid two weeks before unceremoniously looking away. I charged through moments of confusion, of plotlessness; I wrote and wrote and wrote when all I wanted to do was stop because I had no idea what the heck was going on (and maybe I still don’t).

And that, right there, is part of the whole idea. Pushing yourself into those uncomfortable writing zones. Learning how to deal with the moments when you need to WRITE but you don’t have the INSPIRATION.

Learning to write professionally — like the habitual, serious writer I want to be.

So it wasn’t all for naught. I pushed myself into uncomfortable writing spaces and did my best to demolish writer’s block. I added over 13,000 words to a novel I originally told myself wouldn’t even happen. I broached a new genre, I captivated myself with a tale that had originally seemed like — and really, actually was — only a flitting dream.

As many writers have said before, part of the NaNoWriMo journey is developing the habit of writing DAILY. I might have let that temporarily slip due to real life, but I haven’t let the larger goal disappear.

And that goal is, WRITE novels that I love, novels that speak to me and that beg to be written.

So for the final week of November, I am continuing NaNoWriMo on a project that I didn’t start with, but one that calls to me louder than anything else right now.

4,000 words for yesterday alone is saying something right?

Anybody else out there have trouble sticking the daily writing practice? Did you start (and then abandon) a NaNo project? Or have you already won NaNoWriMo this year? What do you do when the scream of a new project begins to deafen you? Tell me all about it below!

Tell Ember all about it...

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