Not finishing NaNoWriMo inspired me

December 1, 2017


I lost NaNoWriMo and here's why:


I failed to plan.


I first mentioned my intention to complete National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) in this post, and honestly, it was a very last-minute decision. I missed the start date last year and made a mental note to try my hand at it this year, but then October 31st came around so darn fast and I hardly had time to gather my thoughts and ideas and formulate a game plan. On November 1st, I was looking like that meme of Mr. Krabs when the room is spinning in the background.


Poor time management.


Our generation as a whole seems to look down on the idea of having a 9 to 5, but I quite like my office-based career path. It provides the kind of structure I didn't even know I wanted/needed. That being said, when I shut down my computer every afternoon, I also shut down the part of my brain that focuses on all things creative writing. It was more of a challenge than I realized to go from writing all morning/afternoon at work and then shifting my focus to a whole entire novel in the evening. My mind is so used to creatively "checking out" around a certain time, so all I'd want to do when the sun went down was sip some wine (more on this later) and relax!

By the time I did feel like writing again, it was late at night and I had to consider the fact that I actually had to work in the morning, so I should probably get some sleep... and it doesn't help that I'm an early riser either. I'm most productive earlier in the morning, so I jumpstart my day around 6am. Sure, I could've stayed up later, slept in a couple more hours, then gone to work later, but should my productivity levels at the office suffer for a creative side project? Priorities.

(I'm now realizing it's a complete miracle I was able to work my way through school. I held down a full time job for 3 of my 4 collegiate years. At the office at 6:30/7am, out the door at 3pm, class from 4pm until 8pm [sometimes later], and then home to eat/homework/sleep/other self care requirements. *And then* I'd get up the next morning and do it all over again - for three whole years.  I also somehow managed to squeeze in time for blogging, regular hot yoga classes, a social life and the dating scene. *And* I graduated with honors, without a single student loan to repay. My time management skills were impeccable, especially for a baby adult. I seem to have lost my way.)


Stories are hard.


Like, really hard.

How do authors craft such intricate journeys that span multiple years and hundreds of pages? I'd often find myself jumping through different ideas, characters, plotlines from day to day. My mind can easily craft tension and dynamic dialogue in a single scene, but how do I connect these scenes into a full narrative? One plus one was not equalling two for me, and honestly it was quite discouraging. I tried to push through it, but it's hard to keep driving a storyline when there's no clear sense of direction.


I couldn't find my favorite wine.


I checked three different grocery stores in my area on my way home from work. I checked my local spirits shop, I even checked Amazon Prime Now (and I don't even have a Prime Subscription) (though I was willing to join if they had my wine in stock). I couldn't find my muse juice anywhere in my area, and as embarrassing as it is to type this out, it really threw me for a loop. My plans to crack open that red blend as I crack open my laptop in front of the living room tv were foiled. FOY! YULLED! Being relaxed and maximizing pleasure is critical to my creative process. It's like how listening to music while working out makes it more enjoyable. Instead I sipped white wine and holed up on the futon in the guest bedroom. Hashtag not the same.



I came to my senses


My inability to stick with one single narrative was discouraging, yes, but it was also enlightening. Maybe a full novel isn't where I need to start right now, and maybe a collection of short stories is in my future. Maybe a novella. We'll see. Thankfully, I still have options.

Somehow not finishing NaNoWriMo has inspired me more than finishing it probably would have. I've gotten better about writing down ideas as they come to me, instead of expecting my brain to remember when I'm finally ready to explore them on a blank page.

Cheers to that.



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