“Winning Versus A Personal Triumph”

The following is a belated post, written post-NaNo, recently found again following the restoration of an accidentally-wiped computer. (Don’t ask.)


Whew. At last. NaNoWriMo 2015 is over.

Did I “win”, you may wonder? No, not in the official goals and concept behind NaNo. But I did not quit and kept plugging away on my story, every day, every chance I got.

My total word count for this year’s project made it to 14,513 when time ran out on me. Darn. In the final hour, the prose was just flying from my hand and if I had another 45 minutes, I could’ve even cracked the 15k marker. Oh well.

I did a little bit of research on my previous three NaNo stories. No, they didn’t “win” either; they were most decidedly far from it. But excluding my first attempt, each of my subsequent entries have improved in word count. To me, that is the best thing about NaNo: Setting a goal and seeing it through to the end.

Of my previous three NaNoWriMo’s, by far, my first year was the best, at approximately 10k. During the four-year gap until my next foray into the world of NaNo, I maintained the excuse that I didn’t want to start something new while I had so many partial stories on my shelf… A childhood friend convinced me to give it another go in 2013. That year I made it up to 8k before Life derailed my progress. 2014’s story started to go down a very dark path and far from the fun romp I intended to go. Because of this, and the speed at which my personal and family life was spiraling out of control, I purposely shelved that story early, ending at 4,600 words.

I really wanted to write a story about a boy and his dog going off on an adventure. So this year, an entire month in advance, I dusted off last year’s story concept and enlisted my son (and inspiration) to help me Story Build this year’s offering. We had a great time, bouncing ideas and concepts off each other, and plotting the story arc our protagonist would follow. I spent time online, doing research on all things local to the area where my story takes place. I talked with fellow writers about my concept and sought advice in the event I’d want to pursue publication of this story one day.

I came up with a game plan to get in my word count and was able to follow 95% of it. Yay! I acknowledged that the odds of me reaching 50k with all of the family obligations on the calendar, in addition to an On-Call work scheduled that’d eat up many nights and 2 key weekends of NaNo, were pretty much slim to none.

So, instead of admitting defeat right off the bat, I decided to set my own goals for this month:

  1. Write a minimum of 60 min each day.
  2. Spend my lunches writing, instead of socializing.
  3. Go into my 3rd Annual NaNoWri Weekend with the highest word count yet. (I had > 7,000!) ….This lead to a goal of leaving the weekend with at least 10k words. (I crushed that one, I actually returned home with over 12k!)
  4. Finish with my highest word count to date.

No. I did not complete a 50k novel this year. But it was by far a personal best and when one is trying to get back into a writing groove after languishing in a drought of words and time, a stressful job, and just pure depression, emerging from this month with that landmark being achieved, is darn right satisfying.

I’m now finding myself setting new goals for the next two NaNoWriMo’s:

2016: 25,000 words

2017:   50,000 words

I believe, that with the right stories, I can make these goals, too.

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