Barely. Very barely. I made the 50,000 word count goal, but I was about 10k behind for most of the month. If it hadn't been for several days off work Thanksgiving week and having only a small and quiet family Thanksgiving celebration, I would never have caught up the 22,000 words I still needed by the end of the month.
And technically I cheated because I worked on several stories, plus blog posts and fanfictions, at the same time.
But considering that I didn't expect to make the word count goal, I'm very pleased to have done it and to have learned a lot more about both writing and meeting goals in the process.
Nanowrimo is a dementor.
I have a love/hate relationship with Nanowrimo. While it's fun and exciting and challenging and a great way to get me to make time for writing, it's also a black hole, sucking one month of my life out of existence.
I avoid goals and commitments because I'm afraid of failure. That means that signing up for Nanowrimo is a major step for me and I'm under a ton of stress for the whole month because I'm almost always behind in my word count. I can't enjoy anything--not even turkey and cranberry sauce--as much when I'm stressing out about getting the next thousand words written.
Revising a Nano novel is even scarier than writing one.
My left brain hates my right brain. I can turn my left brain off for a month during Nanowrimo and simply pound out fifty thousand words of verbal rubbish, but when it comes time to turn my left brain back on and try to make some sense out of the chaos in my Nano folder, my cerebral database starts shutting down in protest.
The Nano folder is a scary place, let’s be honest. Last year it took me four months to get up enough courage to so much as look at my story again, and I know that my current Nano novel has lots of scary gremlins waiting to jump out at me when I finally decide to start editing.
The third week is the hardest.
The week three slump is a real thing, people. Both years I’ve done Nanowrimo I’ve hit the halfway mark and suddenly realised: that was it. I had nothing more to say. Story’s over; everybody go home.
Weird is good.
But that was actually a good thing. As my right brain experimented with different plot lines, random unimportant characters, train wrecks, and other weird and crazy ideas, I began to discover what would work for the story and what wouldn’t. I found out where the story could go and where I didn’t want it to go. Some of what I discovered I didn’t really like, but it fit for the story so it stayed, and dumping all those words onto the page gave me something to work with when it came time to edit.
It was going to make editing a lot more work, but I’d also be able to delete a lot of it. And my left brain loves deleting things.
I really want to be a writer.
Without Nanowrimo I wouldn't be a writer; I'd only be a wannabe. The fact that I am willing to take the challenge every year (and I hate challenges and generally avoid them at all costs) has showed me that I am serious about writing.
Both years I've done Nanowrimo I've gotten flak from family members who thought I shouldn't spend all my spare time writing, especially during a busy month like November. It seems that Nanowrimo brings out most stridently all those objections to writing. "You can't make money writing." "Is it really so important that you need to spend hours on it?" "What's the point if you're not going to publish it?" "You spent all that time on your story and you won't even let me read it?"
The worst of it is, I know they're right. I'm a horrible writer. I'll never make a living doing it. Decorating the house for Christmas is more important.
I have existential crises about whether or not I'm a "real" writer (whatever that means; I don't even know) all the time. But Nanowrimo has showed me just how important writing is to me. Would I keep writing even if I never made money doing it? Yes. Would I keep writing even if no one else ever liked/read what I wrote? Yes. Would I keep writing even if I never liked what I wrote? Probably.
Writing isn't just a means to an end; the process itself is important too. Writing helps me sort out my ideas and explore new ones. It's a natural way of reconciling the world around me with the world inside me. I couldn't stop writing if I wanted to.