I’ve done a slight disservice to a few people this month on the subject of NaNoWriMo in regards to the target of 50 000 words. I’m not alone in having done so, and it’s not particularly egregious or anything but it bothers me enough that I wanted to set the record straight for me.
I’ve been a little too blasé about reaching 50K
I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo many times. I’ve been doing it (with the exception of one year) since 2005 (although 2006 is when I first joined the online community and the local group). I’ve had three failures and plenty of successes. I’ve even done two back to back Camp NaNoWriMo sessions to reach 100K.
When I speak about reaching 50K not being a big deal for me, that’s because it isn’t. I know I can do it.
I want to talk about what reaching 50K means to someone who hasn’t participated in NaNoWriMo before, or who has not yet had a successful attempt.
Writing fifty thousand words IS a big deal. It’s a huge deal.
If you haven’t reached that goal yet, it looks like a tall mountain to climb and right about now if you are behind it feels like you just won’t make it.
I’ll be honest with you, that might be true. You might not make it. Most people never do.
Here’s the thing. If you are seriously participating in NaNoWriMo you are not most people.
You are not most people. Say it again. Carve it on your hand if you have to.
Almost everyone in their lives at one time or another says “Oh I should write a book.” A large percentage of those people really think about it. Almost no one actually does it.
You hear about markets being glutted, writers being a dime a dozen, publishers are flooded with manuscripts etc.
Don’t buy it for a second. Yes, all those things might be true but in the overall scheme of things, you who are writing are not most people. We are the few, we are the bold, we dare to sit, think and put our words down on paper.
If you have made a serious attempt this month and for you NaNoWriMo wasn’t just some fun social event, you have already won whether you reach 50K or not.
You had 40K going into week four and didn’t quite make it? Consider yourself awesome.
You “only” made it to 30K? take a victory lap.
Maybe you are stuck at 20K. Well you know what? You wrote twenty thousand words that needed to be written.
Pat yourself on the back, right now. Realize that those words now set you apart, that you’ve done what most people only dream of doing.
Now, I have some thoughts for you once you finish patting yourself on the back.
We still have EIGHT days left.
(Edit: As the inestimable t! points out, we have NINE days left counting today and he’s right. It’s WAY too early to write off today!)
What are you going to do about it?
Challenge #1: How far behind are you? How much closer to your goal can you be in eight days? Add 2000 words to that and try to make it. If you despair of ever making it to 50K, forget about it and do not let it paralyze you. Think about this challenge. How much can you push on for the next eight days? Surprise yourself.
And now for the big one:
Challenge #2: Keep writing past November 30th until you reach 50K or finish your book, whichever is greater. That last bit is important. Whichever is greater. If you do reach 50K say on December 8th, don’t sigh and put down the pen. Finish the story.
I wish you all good luck and heartfelt congratulations. Go write!
Paragraph six. Absolutely.
More on it later.
But first, I have excellent news. We have 12.5% more time than you think.
We have NINE days left.
True but I don’t like to leave things at the last minute 🙂 . Lemme get some coffee and fix that.
My followup to the 50k being a big deal is that I had to *really* bite my tongue on the NaNo boards.
Because it is true that any writing is a big deal.
But that is not – sorry, folks – what NaNoWriMo is.
Writing is a good thing, a positve thing, a magical and beautiful thing.
But NaNoWriMo is more than that. It is a commitment to do something extraordinary.
50k is hard, but achievable. That is the point. You are *supposed* to suffer to succeed. That’s training. It’s the thing that hurts now but pays immeasurable dividends later. And it *always* comes with suffering; that is the nature of growth.
I know two people who are doing NaNo who *can*not succeed because of their circumstances. One is the primary caregiver for a family with considerable needs. The other is physically limited by a disease which makes it difficult (for all I know at this point, impossible) for him to type. So he uses speech recognition software. But this same disease *hampers his speech.* Yet he keeps at it. Every god damned year. THAT is commitment.
That is the true spirit of NaNoWriMo.
Yes, it is important to write. And 10k is ten thousand more than zero.
But you *committed* to 50. You made yourself a promise. You can bail, and maybe your reasons are excellent (hey, if my computer bites it at this point I’m probably screwed), and the only person you’re letting down is yourself.
But is it okay to let yourself down? Wasn’t the idea, when you signed up, to NOT do that this time? To put your needs, your writing, your *self* first?
The reason, for anybody still reading this, that 50k is not a big deal for Frank, is that he pushed through and did it. Several times.
What did it do for me? Nothing short of changing my life, drastically altering my perceptions, suffusing me with the knowledge of the possible. That is what people who don’t sign on for NaNo, or don’t see it through, are missing out on. The attainment of a more-complete self.
And another thing:
They don’t understand Make It Happen. It seems to be Well I Tried. When they sorta didn’t.
I’m just going to be coming back here periodically to bitch, apparently.
Day 25. The “Pep Talk”:
“I’m at 32K and I’m probably not going to make it. But it’s okay if you don’t, because everyone’s a winner.”
This is the fucking pep talk with 5 days to go. It’s okay to drop the ball ten yards before the end zone.
Great job, folks. Way to inspire the team.
You mean Grant Faulkner’s pep talk or mine? I don’t keep track if so, I don’t read the pep talks.
I don’t mean to call someone a NaNo winner if they don’t make 50k.
I consider them a winner if they wrote something they wouldn’t have and put their heart in it. I challenge them to keep going, to make an effort to try and make that 50K, especially if they don’t think they can make it. I think it’s better than just quitting because the word count is less than it should.
Faulkner’s was fine. It was the one after that, dated the 25th. Can’t remember the author, and I have deleted it from the Inbox.
I have no issue with your approach. But Jesus TPTB at NaNo need to re-think a few things. Or think them in the first place.