Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Nope

No, I didn't write 50,000 words of a novel in November and so 'win' Nano. I didn't even come close (just over halfway). No, I'm not worried about that, nor do I feel like a failure. The novel is further advanced than it would have been if I hadn't signed up. I also wrote seven short stories and a piece of flash last month. Seven is more than I manage in some months where I don't do anything towards a novel, so that's pretty good.

More important than the words I've written is what I've learned about the best method to write. Best for me that is. I couldn't keep writing because I didn't plan my NaNo project well enough, because I didn't know the characters well enough to know how they'd react to the situations I put them in, because I hadn't started writing them, because the plan wasn't complete. That sounds like a vicious circle, but it isn't really – not unless I'm trying to write the entire first draft in one go. When I'm not attempting to do that, I can plan a bit and write it, then plan a bit more and write that, on and on until the end.


Another thing I've learned is that I can write seven short stories in a month if it'll get me out of writing something else. Hmmm, maybe in December I'll add a big chunk to the novel in order to get out of writing short stories?

Most importantly though, I'm learning not to feel insecure because I'm not succeeding in the same way as other writers. If we judge ourselves against others, there will always be someone who writes more words, or submits more work, or sells more, or gets better reviews, or earns more, or something.

Instead I'm going to judge myself against the me of the previous month. The current me has written more, submitted more and sold more than the old me. The Insecure Writer's Support Group hasn't lost a member though – I'm not sure any writers ever totally overcome all their insecurities.

How about you? Did you 'win' NaNo? Do something else with your time? Has the current version of you added to the achievements of the you from last month?

44 comments:

Helen Laycock said...

No, not for me either...
It would be tantamount to throwing a load of ingredients into a bowl and hoping for Mary Berry's finest Victoria Sandwich to pop out!

Patsy said...

Ha! That's a great description.

Ah well, I have some words to weigh, sift, stir and bake now.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

as a fulltime writer...'participating' in nano seems a little silly, but I can say I got the word count. I started on my current OGRENESS Nov 7 and have 73k words now...so I stayed busy :)

Julie Flanders said...

I didn't "win" either but I'm happy with what happened as I came to some of the same realizations you did. I know now what I need to do to get my story moving.
Great to meet you thanks to co-hosting IWSG this month. I can't believe I haven't been to your blog before!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's still a good word count.
Now you know - overload yourself and you get a lot done!

Susan A Eames said...

No, I don't do NaNo, and since reading a very interesting article in Writing Magazine about why writing blindly without worrying whether it's rubbish is a damaging myth we're being sold, I shall continue not to do Nano. :)

Susan A Eames at
Travel, Fiction and Photos

Nick Wilford said...

NaNo is about making forward progress, not "winning", so congrats on that. Yes, if you're going to compare yourself to someone, it has to be yourself. That's the way to get better!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats - 25,000 words is good.

Comparing will only make you insane.

Cherie Reich said...

I actually took a writing break during November (and this month too), but the best thing about NaNo is that you have made progress. You have more words than you started with, and that's awesome. :)

Chemist Ken said...

LOL. I love the idea of using one type of writing to drive you into working on another kind of writing. We all have to use what motivates us.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm never sure where I stand in relationship to other writers, but I can't take the time to find out. Guess I'll just plod along and hope I'm on the right trail.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patsy - seven stories ... great - because I'm sure more will keep coming into your head and you'll progress hugely - mind you ... you've done so well so far with your books etc ...

Chrys Fey said...

Finding our own best method is write is important. I'm glad you discovered yours. :)

Diane Burton said...

Patsy, it sounds like you won, in your own way. You discovered something really important, how to write best for you. Big congrats on that! You also learned something that many don't--never compare yourself to other writers. That's hard to learn. Compare yourself with what you've done in the past. Best wishes.

Rosemary Johnson said...

I did my 50,000 words in 2015, but I haven't touched Nano again. ...And your post just reminds me that I also should be doing IWSG again this month!

emaginette said...

I opted out of NaNo and still wrote most days. November was marvelous and December looks pretty good too. Happy Holidays.

Anna from elements of emaginette

Fundy Blue said...

I cracked up when I read: "Another thing I've learned is that I can write seven short stories in a month if it'll get me out of writing something else." It's amazing how motivating avoidance can be. Best laugh for me so far today! Happy holidays and happy writing in December!

Juneta Key said...

The think I like about short stories if the feeling of completion. Short Story anthology maybe? Didn't win NaNo either or come close. That is cool about discovering you best method. Congrats.

Denise Covey - Author said...

I've got 5 incomplete novels due to NaNo, and may or may not do anything with them, but they are good ideas. I meant to edit during this NaNo but was too busy catching up after travelling to do so. But I've still picked up my story (which was 25,000 words last NaNo) and am beginning to finish it. So excited!

I love your attitude. Any words written are a bonus I say!

Happy Christmas!
Glorious 2018!

Denise :-)

Louise Charles said...

I've done NaNo for 8 years and like you this year I didn't do enough planning. I realised this on day 13 and decided to use the time to write out characters, potential plots and structure - probably did more than the 50k and I wrote on only 19 days out of 30. I left the weekends free as I wanted to develop and maintain a writing routine, which NaNo has shown me I can do. NaNo has changed so much and I don't think writers go into it with a view of writing 'rubbish' - all first drafts are not going to see the light of day, whether written during November or not...it's about so much more than word count: motivation, commitment, meeting and supporting other writers, creating a routine and maybe a nugget of something bigger might materialize, in my opinion anyway. So well done to you, at least you did produce some writing, which is what we're all about?

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great post, Patsy. I didn't try it this year but I do so agree with not to judge or compare ourselves with other writers - that way lies self-sabotage!

Patsy said...

Excellent going, Mac.

Patsy said...

Nice to meet you too!

Patsy said...

I think the key is not to worry exactly what I'm working on, as long as I'm making some kind of progress.

Patsy said...

The approach works well for some, but not everyone. I still think it's worth people trying it once or twice – but of course there's no obligation to do so, especially if your current method is working for you.

Patsy said...

I feel I did make progress, Nick.

Patsy said...

Yep. There's enough pressure without us trying to be better than we percieve others to be.

Patsy said...

Progress is good - and sometimes taking a break is the right thing.

Patsy said...

Absolutely, Ken. For some reason I've migrated to flash fiction this week. That's fun.

Patsy said...

You're approach sounds rather brilliant to me.

Patsy said...

You're right, Hilary - when I write I tend to get more ideas. If I stop, so does the flow of inspiration.

Patsy said...

Thanks, Fey. I think I'm just about there.

Patsy said...

Thanks, Diane. I do feel I've learned a lot this year and not just with NaNo.

Patsy said...

I'm a virtual nag, Rosemary!

Patsy said...

Excellent!

Patsy said...

I'm pleased I gave you a laugh. The post was worth writing just for that.

Patsy said...

With a short story we can hold it in our head and know it's there before we start writing. Sometimes anyway.

Patsy said...

Being excited over a story is a fantastic feeling - hope it stays with you to the end.

Patsy said...

I agree - the word count is only part of it. There are other factors which are at least as important.

Patsy said...

I've been guilty of self sabotage in the past, Rosemary. It's taken me a while to spot all the ways I've done it, but I'm reducing them.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I remind myself often to follow my own process instead of trying to emulate others. Good luck with the rest of your 2017 plans.

Lynda R Young said...

I've never been comfortable with the NaNo "win". If you write, then it's a win. If NaNo helped you focus more, then that too is a win.

Patsy said...

I'm sure I'll need to keep reminding myself too, Susan.

Patsy said...

I certainly don't consider not winning NaNo is losing - but meeting the word count is an impressive achievement.