I Think I’m A NaNo Failure

When I typed the title, I realized it could mean nanofailure. Like nanometer. Only it means one-billionth of a failure.


Sorry. I’ll tuck my nerd back in and we’ll get started.

Nano refers to NaNoWriMo, the magical month where thousands of writers commit to writing a not-quite-novel-length amount of words (50,000) in 30 days.

I’ve sworn off NaNo in the past. This year, I happened to be between projects on November 1st, and I had a new idea brewing, so I figured, why not give it a shot?

My idea is for a middle-grade novel, which will likely come in at around 50K words. So I could – could – write the entire book in a month.

Today is November 12, so I should be about 20,000 words into it.

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Yeah, we’re not there. Not even close. In fact, I don’t want to say how many words I have because it’s embarrassing.

But the fact that it’s embarrassing reminds me of why I swore off NaNo two years ago.

Don’t get me wrong – the word count goals are motivating if you keep up with them. Many writers write their first books during NaNo because of the support system (or peer pressure, depending on how you look at it). Last night, I pounded out 3,000 words (I told myself if I did 5,000 I would give myself a manicure. My nails are still naked). If I do 3K every single day for the remaining 18 days, I’ll be caught up and then some.

doge meme

But let’s be real. 3,000 words per day, with my day job and Thanksgiving thrown into the mix, probably won’t happen. I’ll get some words down every day, and that’s progress, but 50K by the end of the month is probably putting unnecessary stress on myself.

It might take until the end of December to finish. Or the end of January.

And you know what? I don’t think anyone cares if I finish in 18 days or 48 days or 80 days.

NaNo motivated me to start. For me and others like me, that may be enough.

So I may be a failure in the eyes of devout NaNo-ers, but however many words I have at the end of the month will be more than I had at the beginning. And they will be enough.

Fellow writers: Are you doing Nano? How’s it going?

31 thoughts on “I Think I’m A NaNo Failure

  1. I think you’re succeeding at Nano just fine. My roadblocks come, not in writing, but in editing and publishing. Publishing always takes way longer than I think it will, although part of that is the editing glitches, too.

    But you know what? No one is pushing me to publish but me. I want to be confident that the books are good. I might be able to pound out 3-5k, day after day when I’m writing, but I don’t get to do it that often. *insert shrug here* That’s my process. You’re succeeding just fine with yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like that’s the idea Nano is, that it gives you the motivation to start writing. But you’re doing great regardless of if you think you’re a failure, you wrote more words this month then you did.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: That #NaNoWriMo Time | Eclectic Alli

  4. Between my eldest’s birthday and Thanksgiving, participating in NaNoWriMo will remain a big No-No for me, but I support anyone who gives it a try. As you said, even if you don’t win the challenge, you still at least have started.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think anyone who writes during NaNo — and who pushes themselves to write perhaps just a little more than normal – is a winner! The only real competition (in my mind) is with yourself!
    I’ve used NaNo differently different years, this year it’s to try and launch myself back into writing after a year of not-much-writing. It’s working pretty well – I have a lot of words that are no good, and a lot of plot points that are pretty terrible, but I also have some character and stories that actually have potential!

    Liked by 1 person

          • Nano is stupid. Why?

            Well, it boils down to this: you take a month that is the most traveled holiday weekend of the year, which means most people aren’t home or they are having people to their home, you have a big family get together for one day/weekend/week of that month, plus it’s a short month in the first place, and you have basically set a lot of people up for failure.

            I don’t like that.

            Other people can spin it any way they want, that it’s great to get together with their peers and all those things. Fine. It’s not called get together with your peers month, it’s called national novel writing month. Like anybody can write A novel in 30 days or less and it would be something that Hemingway would be proud of.

            That’s just crazy.

            That you would save yourself, gee, this guy is usually pretty encouraging.

            I am. Every month is writing month!

            But even I don’t limit myself to getting the whole damn thing done in 30 days.

            When I’ve done that in the past(NOT nano, but cranking out a book quickly), when I wrote 105,000 words in six weeks or seven weeks, whatever it was, – and I really did that – it had a lot of great things in it but I had a lot of garbage, too. It was only after people spent some time with me and I let it rest for almost 2 years and then reworked it for an entire month, that it was even readable. Without the help of my beta readers and critique partners and my own improved skills, that thing would be… bad. I should have taken the proper amount of time to write it correctly in the first place. I did not write 105,000 words in six weeks, because I had to spend at least another 30 days or six weeks fixing it two years later, and a bunch of time fixing it in between. So I should’ve just taken 90 days to do it the first time and it would’ve been good.

            I think it’s great that lots of people start stories during nano. I think it’s great lots of people encourage other people to do that.

            I don’t see why you try to do it in one month and why you’re not doing it all the time. I do it all the time. I write all the time and I encourage other people to write all the time and I don’t like phoniness, the kind that makes people think anybody can just sit down and write a whole novel in a month. Not just anyone can.

            And the very title of this post, using the word failure, indicates what’s likely to happen to a lot of people who attempt this nonsensical endeavor.

            That said, if you get something out of it, more power to you.

            It would not even occur to me to try, unless November was already geared up for me to write a novel, if that makes sense. In other words, I don’t let other people force their deadlines on me, I write lots of stories all the time.

            But that’s me.

            For those of you love it, great. This is not casting aspersions on you. This is just my Pinyan. In my opinion is…

            Nano is stupid.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Hey, you obviously have no problem cranking out books on your own. Neither do I, really, and I wouldn’t have attempted NaNo if the timing hadn’t very conveniently worked out that way. Turns out that even with more planning than I normally do, I can’t just churn out words without looking back. I just can’t. It’s not within my process. I need more time to get back into it, and, horror of horrors, maybe edit a previous scene. That means writing the first draft will take longer.

              Liked by 1 person

              • What difference does it make if you crank out a piece of crap in 30 days that you spend 60 days fixing, or you crank out a pretty good first draft in 90 days?

                I think it’s basically the same thing.

                Maybe the 30 day goal is supposed to… do what? I think it’s supposed to give people the impression they can write a finished novel in 30 days. Gotta be less than 1% of the population of good writers who can actually do that. Therefore I think it’s deceptive and I don’t like to be a cheerleader for deceptive practices.

                Liked by 1 person

  6. The solution: Take a tiny break from being a pantser and plot your book. Take a day to refine the plot to the point that you know what each scene will be about. Writing is fast when you know what to write. It worked for me when writing A Mind Reader’s Christmas at Camp Nano. Oops, that sounds like a shameless plug. Also, check out the book, Tell, Don’t Show.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t know any Nanowrimos who would say not making 50K is a failure. They have all been pretty firmly in the x words is x more than you had at the start of the month. Enjoy the process. Nano is about connecting with people who love to spin gold from bullshit. smiles

    Liked by 4 people

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