NaNoWriMo: Success or failure?

The other day I faced the real possibility that I might not finish the 50,000 words. Three days ago I should have hit the 50% mark, but instead only today, three days later and almost 5,000 words behind, have I reached the goal of 25,000.
Deadlines- the very word carries a certain level of ominous tone. Now under the pressure of nearing the end of the month, I face the questions of why I joined in the first place, where I’m going with this, and what have I gained by the experience.

I joined mostly for the experience, but I also hoped to have a full novel completed by November 30th. This is doable, but made tougher by the fact I had a few days where I didn’t reach my word count. Now the pressure is on. I have to write even more to reach my goals.

Where I’m going changes from day to day. Some days I hope to have a book to publish, while other days I wallow in the experience. I worry about not finishing, but bear in mind that well over 50% of NaNoWriMo participants do not finish. Even upon completion, what is gained? From the contest you earn a graphic and some recognition. But I’ve also found a few aspects that I gained, even if I don’t finish.

The amount of writing I’ve accomplished in a single day surprised me. I had no idea I was capable of that. In reality, this also says I can still reach my goal of 50,000 by November 30th. I also recognize that being able to write so much in a single day also shows me the amount of writing I can produce for actual publication.

The support of family and friends surprised me as well. My spouse respects the closed door, as does my seven year old son. The time I’ve shut myself from the world provides me the necessary boundaries to concentrate on just writing. Friends often ask me how I’m doing, which also adds to the unspoken encouragement of getting it done.

Deadlines suck. Yep, I definitely see that now. The pressure takes the enjoyment out of writing for me. I also find forcing myself to write, despite my creativity or inspiration can produce quite a bit of crap. The idea is you edit later, replacing the crap with more inspired words, but my thought is why not do that in the first place? (and enjoy the process?)

I find that the experience has certainly provided me with insight on my own skill, and willingness to see things through. If nothing else, the choice I’ve made on the novel also provides a background story to another story I’m working on. Even if I don’t get published, there is gain in that.

I won’t be doing this every year. With family, work, and other obligations, forcing out a novel is just not something I want to do so close to Christmas. After this, I intend on focusing on writing and publishing.


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