Losing NaNoWriMo: Why I Don’t Mind

It’s officially the last day of November, which means two things happen today:

  1. I declare that I didn’t win NaNoWriMo, because I wrote only 30k words
  2. I declare that I don’t care I lost NaNo, because I wrote freaking 30k words

Long story short, I had a bit of an epiphany on Day 22. I went to a book reading, and at the food and drinks bit afterward, I was sitting with my friends, one of whom was interviewing the author for our school’s paper.

When they were wrapping up, he was kind of answering our more random questions (with all the casual lyricism of a writer, of course), and I piped up and said, “Ever done NaNoWriMo?”

(Note: this was a Big Dealβ„’ at the time because I’m horrible at speaking with complete strangers, and I usually end up blushing like an idiot when the attention of more than 2 people is on me at any one time)

Basically, I was met with a blank stare, and then after I’d explained the concept a little bit more, he turns to me and sort of scoffs, and says, “If you’re focusing on hitting a word count, you’re not going to care much about what you’re saying.”


AND IT HIT ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKS: this was why I felt so unsettled whenever I began spouting bullshit on Scrivener at 11:40 at night, desperately trying to write 1667 words before 11:59 so I could update on the website.

This was why, on Day 10, I didn’t write anything at all.

This was why, on Day 22, I stopped trying to catch up.

There were times when I would write a sentence, reread it later, and think, “that could sound better in half as many words,” but I wouldn’t change it. Why? Because I needed those words for the word count. I mean, who am I, Charles Dickens? Maybe he could make that work, but not me. I like being concise. I like to get to the point.

(Ahem, that statement’s limited to my fiction writing, not ramble-y blog posts, yeah?)

And now I know why so many people don’t participate in NaNo, and just admire others from afar. Sure, it’s hard. But it’s also not everyone’s process.

I think the concept of writing every day works for some people, but not for everyone.

I mean, not writing every day doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have discipline. If you write every other day, if you write for 12 hours on Saturdays, if you write at night and sleep during the day, it’s whatever works for you. That’s discipline. There are so many different lifestyles out there, especially when it comes to writers. After all, this isn’t usually our day job.

And you know, life gets in the way. This isn’t an excuse (no matter how much it sounds like one), but I definitely believe in prioritization. As in, my health comes before my novel 100% of the time. So does my family. So does school, unfortunately (for now). So does work. As much as I wish I could sit on the floor and write all day, I don’t have that kind of life. Maybe some people do, maybe I will one day, but I don’t right now. It’s not bad to admit that. It’s actually really, really helpful. Because on Day 22, I realized I shouldn’t be trying to force myself into something that didn’t feel organic, and I instantly felt relieved.

Writing is, to me, (duck, here comes a clichΓ©) the reward. I mean, I wrote 30k. 30k?! That’s amazing. It’s not 50k, but it’s not nothing either. I’m still ridiculously proud of myself. I’m still glad I tried NaNo. I made some real progress on my book this month, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

So do I mind that I didn’t ‘win’ NaNo? Absolutely not. After all, I’ve got this beauty to show for it:



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I'm Emma Kath. Welcome to my blog! This is where I post my original book reviews, litstyle (lifestyle for the lit-nerd), and other bookish things. A little about me: I'm Canadian, and currently a student majoring in English lit and cultural studies. I'm an introvert (INFJ, if you believe in that sort of thing), sarcastic to the bone, I love art and history, and hope to one day travel around a bit. Until then, I'll be reading, writing, and trying to spread a little kindness around the internet. If you have any questions or inquiries, feel free to contact me!

16 thoughts on “Losing NaNoWriMo: Why I Don’t Mind

  1. Congratulations on getting 30k! I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that if you haven’t managed to write 50k, you “failed”. I like the idea behind NaNoWriMo, but you shouldn’t have to force your way through those 50k words. Good luck on finishing your novel!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Congratulations on reaching 30k. I was able to reach 20l this time and life pretty much-interrupted bug time for me. Nonetheless, I am going to continue with my project even though NaNo is over but I am going to move with my pace.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Congrats on your 30k words. ❀ last year, I participated in nano and reached the 50,000 words. To be honest, nano was perfect for me, because it provided the scenario that I write best in: a deadline, motivation, and the support of everyone around me being in the same conundrum. For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to do it again this year attempting to edit my rough draft. Not a good decision. Nano helped me finish a novel draft. I'd never done that before. But when you're looking for quality, better to take it slow. (In my opinions opinion, it's easier to edit bad writing then not have any writing at all, so I'm still really happy I participated in nano last year. I loved he thrill of it.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! ❀️ (If I haven’t said it already, congrats on last year!) I think it’s very healthy to know that’s the kind of motivation you need! For me, I think I need something a little less rigid, but I know that now! I agree though, there is a certain thrill to seeing that word count rise on the bar graph. I hope your editing continues to go well! I think revision is a bit of a never ending process for writers, but oh so necessary. Thanks again! πŸ˜„

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I got stuck early in the month, and didn’t get as far as I’d hoped, but I have almost 6,000 words that I never had before, and I intend to keep working on this project until it’s where it needs to be. I’m thrilled with the progress I made, and I’m glad you were too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with this. I didn’t get a chance to do NaNoWriMo this year but I did last year. I didn’t “win” according to their rules but I won to myself because I actually WROTE something haha. What I like most is that there are thousands of other people doing it at the same time, so I like the community. But it’s true, if you focus on a word count, that number is all that matters anymore. I also can’t write every day. That’s just not me. It begins to feel stressful.

    To me, you won because HELLO you wrote something AND got to a pretty darn good number!

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations on hitting that milestone! NanoWriMo is definitely something that some people love and others don’t but regardless of whether you really aim to hit the goal or if you have different reasons, its so satisfying getting anywhere with it! You should be proud, because really THAT IS THIRTY THOUSAND WHAATTTTT. Congratulations again!


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