Happily Failing at NaNoWriMo

In the Pink OfficeThis is my first year attempting NaNoWriMo. It’s actually my first year taking writing seriously. It’s always been a personal thing for me. Oh, I majored in English in college, studied under some phenomenal writing professors including Lucille Clifton and Debbie Pope, and have had a handful of poems published in national journals. I’ve been writing creatively since my first short story written at six years old. I’ve incorporated the writing of press releases, website content, and ad copy into my online marketing profession. But, I never thought of creative writing as a career – probably because my grandmother encouraged it.

But, this year something snapped in me. In April I realized I was married with a son, a mortgage, and a small business. My life looked great on paper; it was Facebook-perfect! Tara Sophia Mohr later described this to a tee in her article, “5 Steps to Transform Your B+ Life:”

In a B+ life, things are good but not great. All the right life elements are in place: good job, good friends, people you love. The checklist items are checked.

But something feels off. Life feels like it is happening in black and white, rather than in full color. Something in you keeps asking, “Is this all there is?”

The understanding was like a warm splash of water to the face, shocking yet satisfying. I am meant to write. Like the Type-A personality I refuse to admit to being, I threw myself into my rediscovered passion. I guarded all extra time – defined as time not already obligated to work or family – and dedicated it to putting pen to empty page. I signed up for refresher writing classes, joined online groups, began a memoir, reinvested myself in my blog, wrote a memoir proposal, took another class, started a new Twitter account, and landed a gig writing a weekly column for Patch.

Now, I’m taking another writing class, this time to polish my memoir’s proposal so I can start querying agents. And, I’m 4,000 typed words and four handwritten pages into NaNoWriMo with a paranormal romance whose idea I conceived two or three years ago. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.

My habit for the past eight days has been to put my toddler to bed and then go to my pink office to write for a few hours. Instead, last night I plopped onto the couch next to my husband. He encouraged me to go write. “It’s just one month,” he coached. “You can do it. Just get up, walk to your office and you’ll get into it like always.” (I love my husband.)

Nope; I couldn’t do it. I sat and watched episodes of “Modern Family” on Hulu. Then, my husband showed me a new channel he’d found, one that appears to show old “Arrested Development” episodes continuously. I laughed and felt a bit more like myself again – less like a frantic, constantly-overwhelmed person who has bitten off way more than she can chew.

I’m off on my word count now. Last night wasn’t even the deal-breaker. By my estimates, I’m about 8,000 words short of where I “should” be. I cannot see myself getting back on track; in fact, I see more soul-enriching nights with my husband every now and then throughout the month. But, I’m going to keep going with this NaNoWriMo thing. At the worst, I’ll have an incomplete novel at the end of the month. Half a novel is more than I’ve ever accomplished in such a short time. This may not be the true spirit of NaNoWriMo, but, I’m going to allow myself to fail happily.

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2 thoughts on “Happily Failing at NaNoWriMo

  1. That’s one great husband you have there. I’d advise you to keep him.

    Keep putting those words down. The only failed NaNo is the one you give up on. Took me four years to stick it out and now you couldn’t keep me away. I can’t think of a better way to get yourself back to realizing your writing dreams.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I think you’re absolutely right. Even if I don’t get the little digital medal at the end, I’m going to feel like I’ve won. (And, I’m definitely keeping the husband!)

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