On NaNoWriMo and Writing

As we wrap up the last day of NaNoWriMo, I realize I am not finishing for the first time in a while. I would be lying if I said I am not disappointed. NaNoWriMo changed me as a writer, and I look forward to the events throughout the year.


When I first set out to do NaNoWriMo in 2013, I wanted so very much to finish, but I got sick and had to stop about halfway through. I was devastated. The following spring for Camp NaNoWriMo, I tried again and this time I succeeded!

Several years ago, I asked myself what I would most regret when I died, and not writing was one of the biggest regrets I knew I would have, despite having failed before. So I started writing. I went on to try NaNoWriMo fifteen more times, sometimes completing it and sometimes not. All in all, I’ve written over 440,000 words in two series for NaNoWriMo alone the last six years, and at least another 70,000 words on my own outside of the events in those two series. I’m not even counting what I’ve written for this blog, or any of the other blogs I run. I look back on the last six years in amazement. I was just an average girl, from an amazing family. But I made a choice to follow a dream. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it.

Sometimes we will fail. More often than not, I’ve failed. I failed NaNoWriMo this month, even though I tried to do it. Yet, despite a crazy schedule, teaching full time and Grad school full time, I managed to write over 11,000 words in my current series. This isn’t including all of the other things I’ve written this month , like papers for Grad school. 11,000+ may not be the 50,000 I’d hoped for, but it’s more than I would have written in an entire year a few years ago, and I did it in 30 days.

I love this Rocky quote because it relates so much to my own life. It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to let other things get in the way of writing, get in the way of what is most important in life but we can’t let it. It isn’t about failing NaNoWriMo, it’s about whether or not I kept going despite knowing I was likely going to fail because of a tight schedule. It’s about still writing, despite the setbacks and the failures I will face.

I am a far stronger, better writer than I was a few years. But it has come with a price, a price most people never see. There have been setbacks and failures. There have been times when I wanted to give up, wanted to walk away, but I kept going. I’ve had to let things go, and have given up other things I enjoy doing just to have the time to write because in the end, I know no matter how many times I fail, it will only take that one time for it to all be worth it.

Failing NaNoWriMo is a setback, a hit. But it isn’t the hit, it’s whether or not I can keep moving forward. Today I am 11,000 words closer to being done than I was 30 days ago. And that is something to celebrate.

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