So, on the heels of NaNoWriMo 2012, let’s talk about failure and self-forgiveness, shall we?
The 50,000-words goal eluded me for the second NaNoWriMo in a row. And with the same novel even! Ugh. I couldn’t escape my inner editor enough to write just for the sake of adding words to the document. I tried that a few times, but it was dissatisfying in the extreme. If I couldn’t see how the scene was developing a character or moving the plot forward, that was more discouraging than the thought of not getting to 50,000 words. It wasn’t hard to write a lot of extra words that I knew I’d edit out later. But if those words were in a context that had no meaning, that was depressing.
The NaNoWriMo handlers set up the process to include pep-talk letters during the month. At least two of the letters this year focused on reassuring participants that if they weren’t going to make the 50,000 words but stayed in the game—well, then, that was valuable too. I did get to 40,000 words (8,000 were from November 2011’s NaNoWriMo), far more fodder toward a true novel than I had on November 1. I’m actually a bit thrilled by how much more content I now have to play with. The story has become more interesting to me, and I think something’s developing that will eventually make a readable novel.
I love NaNoWriMo for its motivational value. Thanks to the challenge it throws out there—called a deadline—I accomplish far more than normal for me in a 30-day span. And thanks to the pep talks, I’m constantly reminded that I do operate with a restrictive inner editor. When I’m able to ignore its insistent chatter, I can channel creative energy into the resulting void. NaNoWriMo is a time-limited exercise in self-discovery, something we rarely make time for.
Now I will participate in Martha Alderson’s PlotWriMo follow-up suggestions for December! At least, some of them.