It’s only been ten days since NaNoWriMo finished and I ought to be celebrating. And I am, but in a different way, and not for the reasons you’d think. For the first time in eight years, I did not complete my word count goal. I failed NaNoWriMo.
Being the perfectionist and goal-oriented person that I am, I found myself to be surprisingly okay with November’s outcome. So I’d only written 20,000 words. So what? It’s okay. Do you want to know why? I’ll let you in on a little secret.
It’s okay to fail
I don’t even particularly like the word “failure.” It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. It sounds like a bad word. Failure.
As writers and as people, we’ve taught ourselves that failure is the worst possible thing that could happen to you when you set out to conquer a challenge. It’s embarrassing to lose or even quit if you want to.
But it shouldn’t be, because it’s okay to fail. And why is that?
You learn something from failure
The first step is learning how to pinpoint why something didn’t work out.
I can list the exact reasons why I wasn’t able to write the extra 30,000 words and complete my goal. I had lots of homework that took precedence during the weeks of November. I had little to no time to write when my grandparents came to visit for Thanksgiving. When I was able to write, sometimes I felt stuck and didn’t get as much done as I’d hope.
So what can I learn from this? I know that being busy is a legitimate excuse to not be able to write. I know that if I want to have time to write when I know we’ll be busy, I need to specifically carve out a chunk of time dedicated to it. I know that time is precious and I need to make the effort to turn off all distractions in order to make the most of it.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
It’s hard to let go when it means a lot to you. NaNoWriMo is always something I’ve looked forward to, so the fact that I wasn’t able to finish something I loved this year hurt. But it also meant I got to practice not being so hard on myself.
It’s okay not to be perfect. Sometimes it’s even refreshing. It reminds you that you can always be better. It’s exciting to realize that you can go up from here. There will definitely be setbacks along the way, but the possibility as to how high you can go is endless. There will be other NaNoWriMos. And who knows, maybe next time I’ll go above and beyond.
How do you handle failure? Let us know in the comments.
Is there a writing project you've failed to complete, or disappointed yourself by not meeting your goal? Be gentle on yourself and don't get discouraged. Today, pick up that writing again and take fifteen minutes to work on it.
When you're done, share your writing in the comments, and don't forget to give your fellow writers some encouragement, as well!