Throw in the towel for NaNoWriMo 2019

I hit a point by November 23, where I knew I wouldn’t complete the challenge this year. This was my first attempt, and I could blame it on that, but I don’t. I could blame it on increased doctor visits and other changes in my personal life, but I won’t. In the end, the reason why I reached a point where the thought of writing gave me headaches was because I didn’t execute my plan well enough.

Let’s start with some positive notes. NaNoWriMo has a good premise behind it, with a substantial challenge. The idea behind the challenge is to get writers to write every day. You can read or listen to advise from all writers, and they tell us to write every day. It makes sense because writing is as perishable of skill as any out there. Writing can wear you out just as much as a workout. While the exercise wears on your body, writing wears on your mind. You have to pace it and not kill yourself during the process. So NaNoWriMo challenges you to start November 1 and write about 1600 words a day. For some writers, that’s a beast of a number, and others see it as a cakewalk. The website breaks it down even more to two 30-minute sessions at 800 words each. Once again, the achievability on this is just like the overall word count. If you have the story well set in your mind, then you can achieve it effortlessly, most of the time. If you’re going in blind and trusting the story to guide you, then you may struggle a little more. As always, these statements aren’t right for everyone, but I think the majority of writers can relate to this.

I started with 2000 words a day, two one hour sessions at about 1000 words each. I did well for the first six days, though I didn’t hit 2000 every day I still hit the minimums. Then I started to slack on my discipline. I give some things in my life more priority than others, but I also let myself off easy one night. I was just “too tired” to write and “couldn’t focus,” so I didn’t write that day. Then I had some more rough days, and I told myself it was okay. Then the new pokemon game came out, and I told myself that I needed a mental break. Before I realized it, I was almost 10000 words behind. So I beasted out 4000 words in one day, and then none the next day. Then I tried to get 4000 words again, but only got 3000. At the end of the third week, my brain felt fried. I was still 15,000 words away from my goal, and I didn’t want to write at all. As I said earlier, I would open my laptop and then start to get a headache. Writing this article on November 26, 2019, is the first thing I’ve written since last week.

So what happened?

I started this challenge excited and full of enthusiasm. I created a graphic to share word counts each day, and the first/last line of what I wrote for that day. A few people liked and commented on the posts. That was okay, though. I just wanted to share what I was doing with my time. One thing that has always bothered me about writing compared to the other arts is you can’t show the progress outside of word counts. So this was my way to give people something, but not enough of the story that they wouldn’t read it later. I kept my spirits high and pushed through seven straight days of writing. Then life struck.

I had only been doing this for a week, and I didn’t discipline myself enough to keep up with the goal. The point of NaNoWriMo is to build that discipline. However, I allowed stress and sadness consume me. I chose not to continue. At times that I could have written, I decided to play pokemon, or cruise social media, or get lost in my graphic design projects. I kicked those to the curb, found some new self-motivation, and then pushed out those large chunks before I fell back into anything but writing.

So what do I recommend?

Have a plan, and then stick to the plan. I see that NaNoWriMo has a quality basis, and with proper implementation, it builds healthy writing habits for its participants. I would recommend staying off of social media in the sense that you don’t need to worry about what other people’s word count is. You worry about you, boo. The greatest competition should always be yourself.

So I plan to retake the challenge next year, but with a better plan. I still have a great start to the first draft at 34148 words. I can now continue at my own pace and not feel like I’m racing the clock. Whether you finished NaNoWriMo and received a winner’s certificate, or you want to curse the challenge for killing your writing drive. I hope my story helps or entertains in some form.

Stay fresh my Nugs.

An LGR post.

One thought on “Throw in the towel for NaNoWriMo 2019

  1. Jenni

    Thanks for sharing! I was wondering about how you did. Life happens. I appreciate you sharing your experience. You have A LOT going on in your life right now!! I hope next year you will be in a better place to “cakewalk” this challenge. I like that you are finding growth in every experience and sharing.


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