This was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, and I'm going to let you all in on a little secret as to why I didn't participate in past years. I'll say it was because I was always too busy with school, and that's partially true, but it's really because I have a fear of failure. I put a lot of pressure on myself to see my goals through--it's why I physically cannot procrastinate--and I will beat myself up if I don't get something done.
There was always this thought of, If I can't even finish NaNoWriMo, how could I ever be a published writer? Which is crap, I know. Whether or not you can crank out 50,000 words in 30 days is no marker of how good of a writer you are. But don't try to argue with my irrationalities.
Image credit: Engin_Akyurt on Pixabay.
I'm happy to say I did reach 50,000 words this month. But I must add a disclaimer: I only wrote 40,000 since I started the month with my project already at 10,000. It was cheating, I know, but I'm still going to count it since I've always wanted to try NaNo.
I don't think NaNo is for everyone. I don't want writers to feel pressured to do it, and feel like a failure if they don't reach 50k words. Everyone writes at a different pace and has different methods, so this absolutely should not be some sort of bar to measure yourself against.
For me, for this particular project, NaNo was helpful. I had it outlined already, and I knew exactly which direction I wanted to take the story in, but I was lacking in motivation. I felt spread too thin with my other responsibilities, so working on a first draft dropped to the bottom of my priorities. NaNo helped me push it back toward the top and make some real progress.
The fast drafting, along with making me write consistently, also kept the story fresh in my head so I didn't have to constantly try to remember what happened before, what the name of that one mentioned character was, etc.
Most importantly, NaNo gave me experience with a deadline. As an un-agented writer, I haven't yet had any real deadlines, other than those that were self-imposed. Sure, you could say NaNo is self-imposed as well, but I still think it's more "official" than me just writing in my notebook: FINISH BY [INSERT DATE].
Will I do NaNo again? Depends on the project and if I have the time. Probably not next year, since I'll be in graduate school, but maybe in coming years. As I said, NaNo isn't for everyone, and I also don't think it works for every project. My last WIP, which I'm currently querying, definitely would not have worked for NaNo, because it took too much research and careful planning along the way.
I enjoyed my experience this year, and I'm proud of myself for taking the challenge. Congrats to all who participated. No matter how many words you wrote, you made progress and that's something to celebrate.
Now start editing!