What To Do When Your NaNoWriMo Isn’t a Success

The goal of  National Novel Writing Month is to write 50,000 words in a month. It’s a huge undertaking that requires determination, discipline and planning. No one can fault you if you miss the mark. If you’re feeling post-NaNo blues, look no further.

First, let me reiterate the sheer near-impossibility of writing a novel in a month. It’s hard, man! If you’re not hitting burnout, you’re grappling with imposter syndrome, perfectionism, plot holes, and writer’s block. We can’t all be Stephen King.

So what happened?

Maybe you worked hard, but just couldn’t reach it in time. Maybe uncontrollable factors got in the way. Maybe you started off great but couldn’t keep up the pace. Maybe you didn’t really try.

Guess what?

That’s okay.

Sure it doesn’t feel okay, and thanks to NaNo’s little graphs it probably doesn’t look okay either. Here’s mine from my first ever attempt at CampNaNoWriMo in 2018. It looks like I took a snooze halfway up Everest and froze to death.

NaNo 18

Guess what? It’s okay.

Writing isn’t contained to one month of the year. It’s constant.

So you fluffed a month. No biggie. Another month has begun, and the words written this month matter just as much. It takes as long as it takes.

We’re writers. We persevere.

What You Should Do Now

  • Take a break.

You’re feeling down. Maybe even guilty or ashamed.

Don’t stew in your negative emotions. Take a step back. Eat a snack. Take a nap. Watch a movie. Do the things you purposely put off while working on your WIP.

  • Look at the positives.

What’s your word count? Is it more than it was before you took part in NaNoWriMo, even if it’s just a single word? That’s progress.

In that first CampNaNoWriMo I took part in, I wrote 27,000 words. Before I attempted a NaNoWriMo challenge, my average was 11,000. That’s double. Suddenly, that doesn’t sound like such a failure, does it?

Count your achievements. Did you outline? Did you figure out a scene? Or even brainstorm a new plot twist?

It’s all progress.

  • Figure out what went wrong.

Now you’ve relaxed a bit, its time to throw self-pity aside and figure out what stopped you from finishing your goal.

With me, I got hung up on the details of my story. There was so much to write and none of it was going how I wanted to, so I lost motivation and eventually just wrote a sentence a day just so I could earn that badge for updating everyday. You know the one.

  • Plan for next time.

Now you know the problem, you know exactly what to be wary of next time. Come up with a plan of action to meet the goal next NaNoWriMo. That’s what I did for my 2020 NaNoWriMo and I aced it.

  • Write.

Maybe you wrote more than me, maybe you wrote less. Even if you wrote nothing, just remember that in the grand scheme of things NaNoWriMo doesn’t matter. A new month has begun. Get writing.

Interested in other posts about this topic? Click here to explore the tag.

Published by

Writer In A Hat

Writes speculative fiction, is a lover of science fiction and fantasy, and wanders aimlessly in circles when brain storming ideas. Family and friends are very concerned about that last part.

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