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On not finishing this year’s novel writing month

Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I struggled to write the 800 or so words that I needed to reach 40K on my NaNoWRiMo novel. I was already behind, unable to make my word count every day for a week, at least. I tried to use weekends to double or triple my word count, and for a while that was working. I started the month ahead of the game. I hit the halfway mark earlier than I thought I would. The words were flowing easily. The story was interesting. I was finally getting back into the groove of writing on a daily basis. And then – nothing. That week of forcing the words. Of opening my notebook or the document on my computer and then finding anything else to do except write.

I decided a week ago that I wasn’t going to keep working on this after November 30. Maybe it was too early to make that decision. Maybe it still is too early. Maybe I need to set it aside and wait until I want to write instead of forcing myself to write. It’s an interesting novel. I have no idea where it’s going. Of the three voices I’m following, two are easy. The third is where I can pinpoint this month’s failure germinating. I chose to try the third voice, follow that third character around for a while. I hated it. Those were the two days when I struggled the most, and since then, even picking up with one of the other characters, it hasn’t been any better.

Honestly, the thought of writing 10K words in the next 5 days (that’s only 2K words a day and not impossible at all), makes me want to cry. I hate that. Because I hate giving up. I want to get to 50K and be “successful” at NaNoWRiMo. Not that writing 50K words in a month is the only measure of success. It’s not. I’ve done it before just fine. This was just an excuse to get back into writing. It was an excuse to push myself into doing something I haven’t felt inclined to do in a while. At the beginning, it felt good. Now, it doesn’t.

I’m struggling to decide to stop writing this month. Every time I think that I ought to stop, my second thought is that pushing myself these last 5 days is doable and of course I should do it because at 40K why give up now. I go back and forth, back and forth. But the truth is, I don’t want to push myself. I’m not going to ever want to return to this novel or finis it if I force it right now. If I want to have any chance at making it all the way with these characters and this story, I need to take a break already.

I think that’s okay.

It doesn’t feel okay. I hate giving up. I hate feeling like I failed this year. I want to change that feeling into hope, though. I was able to get back into writing and that, for a little while, I was super excited about a new project. That’s a good thing. It means I haven’t lost my love for writing. And I certainly don’t want to lose it either. I want to be excited about writing. I have a thousand ideas, and I want to share them. I want to make the words come alive on the page again. I want to tell stories.

So deciding not to worry about these last 5 days and that magical 50K word count is okay. It’s probably better for my writing life than pushing myself through it.

I believe that doing NaNoWRiMo this year and setting out to write a non-YA novel, even though I didn’t “succeed” and even though it’s not complete, is exactly what I needed. I’m going to enjoy these last few days of November without worrying about hitting 2K each day, without agonizing over what scene to write next, and without feeling guilty every time I do something that isn’t writing. And then, on the other side of November, I’m going to see where I end up.

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