If you’re anything like me, then your NaNoWriMo 2021 has not gone to plan. I am now days behind on my goal, and at first I was just so frustrated.
Everything started off so well! I was hitting my daily word count goals, and even writing ahead. I felt like I was getting into the groove of drafting again after almost two months away from writing new words. And I was like, Yeah! I have a solid daily routine again!
Then a few things hit at once.
First, I got stuck in my story. This is not unusual for me. I work in phases: input + brainstorm, plan, draft 10-15K words, get stuck, circle back to input + brainstorm, toss out old plan and craft something new, sometimes rewrite entire previous pages as I sort out where I went wrong, then draft 10-15k more words, get stuck again…
You get the idea. This is the way I work best, and when I finally embraced this cycle four years ago, it made my whole life so much easier. I am not a write-everyday kind of person. I work everyday, but it’s not always by applying new words to a page. And for this very reason, I always struggle with NaNoWriMo.
Don’t get me wrong: I adore NaNo, I’m on the Author Board, and I’ve attempted it in some fashion every year since 2009. But I no longer adhere to the 50,000 word goal because I know with my process, I probably won’t get there. Or certainly, Mom Sooz won’t get there.
Which leads me to the second thing that went awry: the time change. CURSE YOU, DAYLIGHT SAVINGS. The Frenchman and I did everything we were supposed to do to prepare the toddler for the “fall back.” But it didn’t make a lick of difference. And for some inexplicable reason, she is now waking up not one, but TWO hours earlier each morning–thereby eliminating my entire morning work session.
On top of that, she has been In A Mood this past week (new teeth maybe?), which has quite honestly broken me. By the time her nap finally rolls around, I am so braindead that although I attempt to BICHOK, nothing is really working.
So that was third thing: bye-bye familiar working routine! I suppose it’s my own fault for being so trained. So reliant on these ~3-4 hours of Me Time that I once had each day, so now with those thrown off, I have completely unraveled as a human.
Can you sense my despair? I thought I’d have 15,000 words by the end of today. Instead, I’ve been stuck at 11,000 for almost a full week. Rather than write in the few hours I’ve managed to carve out for myself here and ther, I’ve been brainstorming and trying to figure out why the story feels like pulling teeth instead of a torrent of satisfaction and easy words.
I was actually so upset last Thursday, that I had a good meltdown cry to husband. “Why am I even pretending I still have two jobs?” I moaned at him. “The fact is that I have one: I’m a nanny. Period. A nanny who is under contract for a job she can’t do.” <insert all the tears here.>
I was very upset. I’m kind of embarrassed by it now. Especially because a few days later, I had an epiphany. It’s okay not to win NaNoWriMo.
I realize this is perhaps not what you want to hear. I realize that many of you want me to cheerlead and shout, “YOU CAN DO IT!!!!” And I will gladly shout that at you because honestly, so many of you CAN do it and so many of you WILL. You’re amazing.
But if you’re like me and falling behind, if you’re watching your goal slip away, if you’re feeling frustrated at yourself and the world (but mostly just yourself), then here’s all I can say: embrace the failure. Find some flexibility. You’re also amazing.
The world will not end if you don’t “beat” NaNoWriMo. And I would wager that no matter how many words you end up actually committing to paper, you will have made progress. You will have more words than you started November with–and on top of that, you will have brainstormed and planted seeds that will grow into amazing ideas for the months still to come.
And on top of that, as a Mighty Pen, you will have raised money to help WeForest and the world. Maybe it’s not as much as you’d hoped to riase, but you still did something good to combat climate change. How many people can say they did the same this November?
At this point, I’m not changing my goal from 30,ooo words–not yet anyway. What I’m doing instead is simply detaching myself from the outcome. Whatever I manage to write for NaNo, I manage to write, and that is AWESOME.
The same goes for you: progress is progress, and you can be proud of it. Let go of the outcome; enjoy the (often frustrating) process, and know that you’re not the only one finding flexibility this November.