Yes, it’s true. This year I didn’t win NaNoWriMo through perseverance, determination, tremendous will power, overwhelming stamina, or many other similar and positive traits. I won because I’m stubborn, because I refused to lose despite having lots of very good reasons to do just that. I had won all four years prior and some part of me simply wanted to ensure that I won year number five at all costs.
The end stats graph wasn’t pretty – you can see to the right that a quarter of the month I didn’t write at all, a quarter of the month I wrote a few hundred words or less, and then the rest of the month was random surges in words. I went from being about a week ahead of schedule earlier in the month to actually slipping behind schedule slightly in the last few days, before finishing up suddenly on November 29 (I regularly finish a day early, although I don’t always know why). I knew I was going to spend all of November 30 moving my stuff into a storage unit where it’ll stay until I can afford to ship it to Sweden next year, and so that Friday night I sat down and pushed out 4000 words like my life depended on it.
I’ve barely written a word since, only replying to a couple of emails and writing words necessary to teach my students. Within the 24 hours starting on that Friday night and going through the next Saturday, I think I just wrecked myself mentally, emotionally and physically, and several days later I’m still recovering. Within the next couple of days I’ll be finished with storing stuff away and moving fully out of my old house, and then I’ll finally be able to slow down, catch my breath and consider writing again. Until then, this will have to do.
I have a lot of fun each year with NaNoWriMo, but this year I found myself questioning why I do it to myself. But I think I know the answer deep down. I know that to really make it as a writer, you have to do one thing above all else – you have to write. I know it sounds a bit obvious, but for me it’s a discipline thing. If I ever want to take myself seriously, I have to make myself write and write a lot. I know completing NaNoWriMo doesn’t guarantee me being published later in life, and I know not completing it doesn’t turn me into a writing failure, but knowing I can say to myself “you need to write now” and knowing that in turn I will listen to myself and do just that – that is invaluable!
And so, on that note I know next year I will do it all again, only this time in a much, much colder climate. I look forward to it immensely.
How did all of you go with NaNoWriMo this year? Did you win it, or achieve the goal you set out for yourself? If not, do you feel there was something positive you could take away from it all still?