Nanowrimo Fails: Other ways to approach Nano when 50K is scary!4 min read
Nanowrimo starts again soon. Your nemesis. Your Everest. Every year you start with all the best intentions. Every year you end somewhere around the 20th having only reached 15K. You are disheartened. Even the thought of reduced Halloween candy isn’t giving you that buzz you need to open your laptop on the 1st and start your story. You do not want to fail again, so why even start?
The goal, 50K, has always been audacious. Meeting it is meant to be a challenge. A really, really tough one. So failing at that challenge is fully understandable and acceptable. I keep saying it (because it’s true), but if you write more in Nanowrimo than you would in a normal month, then you are a winner.
But that’s hard to remember with the looming prospect of 30 evenings spent sitting and staring at a blank page. There is so much pressure to write in November.
So if you didn’t reach 50K last year, or if you never reach 50K, what can you try and do differently this year?
There is always (dare I say it?) the ability to not do Nanowrimo. Sacré bleu! You take that back! But the option is there. Why not have a rest this year? It will hopefully leave you a bit more motivated and energised for next year.
Then there’s joining a group that meet up in person. I cannot continue to stress enough how helpful this is. The year I did fail to hit 50K (last year) was because I only attended two of the many meet ups. Going to a meet up gets you out of your house and away from Netflix and chores and anything else you might tend to distract yourself with. It will give you space to write. I recommend choosing a location without WiFi if at all possible.
Other options? You could reframe the challenge this November. Whether you just scale down the goal, both 25K and 10K are still impressive stats, or whether you set the goal of one 100-word piece of flash fiction a day for 30 days. If 50K is asking too much of you this year, set a different writing goal, but just find a way to keep writing!
My biggest reason for failing, or just generally struggling in Nanowrimo, is when I’m not writing something I love. I read widely, from old school epics to comedies about 18th century scientist cats. But when I have the most fun writing, it’s always pure YA fantasy. Nano is about having fun, not just stretch goals, so don’t tackle anything you won’t have a hell of a lot of fun writing.
And don’t treat your story, or Nano, with too much seriousness. Nanowrimo has a Viking hat emblem for a reason. We are marauding through our story landscapes, raiding, pillaging, setting things on fire for utterly no reason. We are not precisely placing one carefully chosen word in front of another.
If you decide to do Nano this year, take your story and run through it like a berserker with a fan fiction crush on the whole story-verse. One ridiculous character shenanigan a day. That’s my Nano goal this year.
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