My Epic Failure at NaNoWriMo 2016

It feels like November just flew by. Now that the craziness of NaNoWriMo has ended, it is the time I examine why I failed so miserably. It is very painful to admit failure especially after claims that I was easily going to get 50K and win the challenge on my first attempt. I knew it was going to be difficult but I had no idea it was going to be so damn hard.
If you’ve been able to get 50K words and win the challenge, I tip my imaginary hat to you. If you’ve lost, I know how it feels. If you’ve never ever heard about NaNoWrio, just stop reading. There are things that you are interested in and writing clearly isn’t one of them.

My NaNoWriMo2016 Progress Tracker
My NaNoWriMo2016 Progress Tracker

I have mixed feeling about my word-count [10,781]. I am dejected that I lost with such a huge margin. However this also the most I’ve ever written on anything [blog post, short story, article, emails etc]
The fact is, I failed (in this particular challenge) and it sucks. Honestly, I was so sure that I’d win that I actually tracked and measured my performance throughout the month(you know to show off later). Even though it did not fulfill its original objective there are a lot of things I learned in the process.

1. I Do Not Know Shit About Writing.

I had been pretty active on Twitter reading what other people had been talking about, listening to podcasts and checking out messages on Facebook. While the rest of the NaNoWriMo Universe was busy writing or at least thinking about what to write I was wondering what is a scene or a plot. I had no idea how to write a story outline [or if you actually need one]. I did not know how character development works.

I still do not know any of it but at least I know what I don’t know.

2. Research Is Important, even if you are writing fiction.

I am going to get a lot of flak for writing this but I really did think writing fiction was a lot easier than non-fiction. You did not have to be factually or even logically accurate; you could just make up things as you went.
Turns out making up things are far, far more difficult than writing facts.

Writing is hard, writing fiction is damn hard.

3. You will never have time to work on your book.

I think one of the reasons I failed so horribly is because I did not write for more than half the days in November. I mean I could be wrong but maybe that was the reason why my word-count is abysmally low. My excuse, I just couldn’t find the time to write. On the days that I did write, I averaged about 770 words and only because I blocked out a specific time of my day. You will never have time to work on your book, you are going to have to take the time out especially if you do not write for a living.

On the days that I did write, I averaged about 770 words and only because I blocked out a specific time of my day. You will never have time to work on your book, you are going to have to take the time out especially if you do not write for a living.

You will never have time, you will have to make time

4. Blank Page Syndrome Is A Dragon.

If you’ve ever fancied being a writer you’ve already suffered from innumerable Blank Page Syndromes. Killing a dragon isn’t easy but not impossible either. Just like taking a cold shower on a winter morning, the most difficult part is just before you step under the shower.

A Blank Page Syndrome in writing is akin to stepping into a cold shower.
Stepping out of cold shower be like…

Wait, is that where the expression cold feet comes from?
Anyways, after the shriek of pure horror when the cold water hits you, you kind of get used to it (at least I did) and get over it.
If you want to write, stop thinking about writing. Stop dreaming about writing. Stop worrying about what exactly are you going to write. Open the damn page and just start writing. Once you start writing [even if it is absolute gibberish] you will eventually get in the flow.

No one is born a Dragon Slayer; with training & practice nothing is impossible

5. Sprint Writing.

oscar-wilde
Image Credit: WikiImages – Oscar Wilde

My impression of a successful writer has been of someone sitting in a coffee shop and just pounding at his keyboard for hours until a perfect book is created. Turns out the part of my brain responsible for writing is a rebellious son of a bitch who does not want to conform to this notion.

I can write but not for hours or even an hour. Actually, I pretty much get saturated after 20 minutes.
It took me an hour to get my highest word count [1571] but it did not start at 9 am and stop at 10 am. It was 3 sessions of 20 minutes each. In fact, every day I went over 800 words was a result of breaking down my writing session into 20 minutes.

I would set a timer for 20 minutes. I was more concerned about running out of time than paying attention to distractions. I would plug my headphones in, tune up some alpha wave music and just have a go at it for a full 20 minutes. Then I would go back to the world full of distraction.

I would plug my headphones in, tune up some alpha wave music and just have a go at it for a full 20 minutes. Then I would go back to the world full of distraction.
Writing worked for me because I imagined myself to be in a bubble that lasted only 20 minutes. I wasn’t writing a book or working on the NaNoWrio challenge, I was simply writing and I only had to write for 20 minutes.

Break Your Marathon Into Smaller Sprints

In conclusion

Overall, I had a blast participating in the challenge and considering how much I’ve learned about myself, I don’t think it was a waste of time. If you’ve failed to get the 50K words, it’s time you look back and glean the lessons learned. I am off to learning character development for a book. Until next time…..

Advertisements

13 thoughts on “My Epic Failure at NaNoWriMo 2016

  1. I understand the feeling for sure. My word count was worse than yours. So technically if you call your failure EPIC, mine cannot be described in a million words!

    The sad part about my failure though is that there are no excuses such as a ‘writers block’ or ‘blank page’ syndrome.
    My reason is plain and simple. A deadly combo of ‘Procrastination’ and ‘Laziness’. A cyanide shot for the write in you. 😉

    Like

  2. When I’ve failed nanowrimos, it was a combination of not doing enough prep work on the story I wanted to tell beforehand (that research you mentioned!) and not forcing myself to spend enough time with my butt in a chair and my fingers on a keyboard.

    Like

  3. For the structure and plot stuff – check out KM Weiland’s blog Helping Writers become Authors. There are loads of useful articles there.
    As for sprints – try @NaNoSprints next year. Or your region should have a group that writes together. The support – and the competition – really helps to get those words written.
    Remember: writers write. And the only way to really learn how, is to do.

    Like

  4. I never set out to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo but I’ve done poorer this year than any other year. Got sidetracked with the election and the results. Plus I committed a cardinal sin. I started from the beginning. I’ve learned that I’m more productive if I start writing from the middle and come full circle than linear, from beginning to end. I also do better with word sprints too which at least was something I did do.
    And oh yeah, research is important. I write fantasies and now doing romance, and have storyboards for each of my WIP full of research. Otherwise, I’m lost without it.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s