Thursday, October 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo Fail

Every year for the last several years, I've signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and failed.

In case you don't know, NaNoWriMo occurs during the month of November and participants all have the single goal of writing 50,000 words. That's about 1,600 words a day.

My friend Rachel Herron (Check out her website at sold her NaNoWriMo novel, by the way. She's a wonderful writer.  So am I, I swear! but I remain a NaNoWriMoFa.
I even failed the two years I was invigorated, inspired, and pumped up by attending talks by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty. He spoke at my Uni when I was in grad school, and a few years later, at my RWA chapter. He's an inspiring speaker, so if you ever get the chance to hear him, GO!

I have copious excuses, of course. Some of them are lame and some of them are really good.  When I was in grad school, my son was quite young, I was working full time, and I was under contract for more books. I was quite busy and I had my schedule worked out to the point where every moment was spoken for. There was no wiggle room for adding stuff. 

A couple of years I was writing a book anyway, but when November hit, both times I was in the Deleting Crap Phase and I ended up with negative word count. And a way better book by the end of December when I was in the Writing Way Better Stuff phase.

One time I was prepared for a rocking November only then one of my editors sent revisions on time and I ended up setting aside the book while I did my revisions. After two weeks off from writing the next project there really wasn't any way to make up the lost NaNo Time.

Then there was the year when I tried, but, well. Ahem. hey! Look over there! I made my word count but not the NaNoWriMo word count. My excuse is that I was... um... doing stuff! Important stuff.

Last year I was going be a winner for sure, and then I ran out of steam because my book was due some dumb date like December 30 and I was desperately panicked that this was the time I was going to fail not at NaNoWriMo but at actually writing a good story. My goal then was the best possible story I could get out of my hot mess, not word count. Until, imagine my horror, I discovered I had written not one but two, TWO! wedding scenes. Yes. My hero and heroine got married twice.

I felt like crying, only there wasn't time. I had to turn in my book on time and that meant I had to ::waving hands and magical incantations:: fix the damn book which I did. I turned it in on time. It wasn't until I had my revision letter and was looking at the book for the first time in several weeks that I thought, Huh. This is pretty good! I have no recollection of writing much of it. I was in a fog. It was a book that required remarkably little revision.

Am I depressed by all my NaNoWriMo failures?

No. Absolutely not.  I LOVE getting the emails and hearing from and about fellow Nano-ers. November always feels to me like the Month of Fun Writing.  NaNoWriMo reminds me about the fun of writing, about the value of getting words on the page and that there is a point in a project when it's not just getting down the words, it's about deleting the ones that don't belong and replacing them with ones that do.

I'm going to sign up for NaNo again this year and whatever the outcome, I will be a winner.

Be my NaNoWriMo buddy! I'm cjewel. We'll be winners together.


  1. You can do it! I'm a huge fan of NaNoWriMo! Good luck to you.

  2. What I love about NaNoWriMo is that even when you fail at it, you still win. My four failed attempts netted me partials, two of which I've gone on to complete. One I recently sold to Carina Press.

    Your attitude is a great one. You haven't won yet, but you won't stop trying. I love it.

  3. @Jill This year, I am determined!

    @Reese Woot!!! on your sale. That is awesome.

  4. I'd really like to read a book in which the hero and heroine get married twice.

    I feel for your Deleting Crap Phase & negative-word-count month. I pulled an all-nighter a little while ago and ended up with a negative word count to show for it. I have not felt so demoralized in years.

  5. Hey, Cecelia! Married-Twice, a trope coming to your MMP or eReader soon!

    Thanks, Lauren!

  6. I have a NaNo fail under my belt too, but I'm determined this year (despite being in two weddings and planning my own...oh boy)! Thanks for sharing your experience. Good luck!!