To the Rest of Us NaNoWriMo Failures

NaNoWriMo FAILUREI’m a failure. I’m a big fat lazy aimless unambitious masochistic failure. And this post is dedicated to all the Wrimo Failures out there. 

A few days before the start of November, I thought “Hey, I’ve never given NaNoWriMo a serious shot before. I’m gonna’ do it this year!” Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I started writing with a vague semblance of a point for writing my book. It was going to be a fictional memoir, you see, full of meta postmodernistic dark humor about someone who forgoes writing a suicide note for writing a suicide book. The protagonist was totally going to die, you see, and he would know all about it because he was going to be the one doing it. Yeah, this idea totally rocks! No plot, no problem, right? I have my ending kinda’ sorta’ hashed out. Alls I needs to do is slap some peanut butter and jelly in this sumabitch.

As you may have seen in the couple of updates that I wrote about in the past month, I started out strong writing right on track at the 10,000 word mark and then I gradually fell behind. But hey, a couple cups of tea and a few hours of pure writing time at the cost of my sleep should just about do the trick. I’ll be caught up in no time.

Nope.

Just nope.

It was about 10:53 p.m. on the evening of November 30th, when I realized there was no way I was going to be able to write 7,000 more words in 2 hours and 7 minutes. If I wasn’t already too sleep deprived, I would have broken out the irish creme, coffee liqueur, and half & half and started watching Monty Python videos. I just stuck to watching Monty Python sober- but not until after I had churned out a thousand more words for the next hour and 6 minutes. In the end, I reached 43,438 words of my “novel.”

And you know what? 43,438 words ain’t half bad. Actually, it’s freaking fantastic. This past November was a wonderful learning experience via NaNo alone and I am thankful for the lessons it has taught me. In fact, there has been a lot to be thankful for this November.

NaNoWriMo Chart with Frame

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

So for all of you out there who started NaNo, but never got around to reaching your goal for whatever reason, I raise my mug of tea to you. Whether your wrote 49,000 words, 12,000 words, 100 words, or just came up with a title, we can all give ourselves a pat on the back. The point of NaNoWriMo is not about writing a perfect New York Times bestselling novel in 30 days. The point is to just get started. Any step forward is a step in the right direction. It’s stagnation that kills us. There are some people with novel ideas who never so much as write down the title! You did that and perhaps much, much more! We did that!

This all sounds a lot like naive, self-deceiving, optimistic bullshit – which it is – but yet, it isn’t. NaNoWriMo is about having fun. Even the stress you experience through NaNo isn’t supposed to be overly negative stress. You’re not meant to beat yourself up over your holey plot or stubborn characters. You’re supposed to have fun with it. What is the point of writing if you’re not enjoying yourself? I may not have been even close to finishing my story, but I’ve made [in]glo[u]rious headway on it.

It might be a steaming pile of ox dung right now, but it’ll make great fertilizer for future writing endeavors.

So chin up, fellow Wrimo Failures. Even the greatest writing fails we have achieved this past month is a small victory.

What are you thankful for? Fellow Wrimos, did you reach your goal? What did you get out of NaNoWriMo? Will you do it again? (I know I will). Post your word count proudly and share your thoughts in the comments! 

Read about others’ NaNo “losing” experiences:

Follow my mundane thoughts on Twitter @SOStudent and watch me make a fool of myself on the YouTubes (stressingoutstudent). Cheers.

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Stress: Friend of my enemy… is my friend?

Think back to high school. Or if you’re in high school, think back to yesterday:

So you’re sitting on your couch, minding your own business as you’re watching “America’s Got Talent” and just as they’re about to boo off a guy in clown shoes and suspenders jumping on one leg while singing “Yankee Doodle” in falsetto, your mom comes in and this transpires:

Mom: “Hey, favorite daughter/son/androgynous child, it’s Sunday.”

You: *tear your eyes from the screen reluctantly* “Yeah, so?”

Mom: “Well, have you finished all your homework?”

You: “… Yeah…”

Mom: “Okay.” *leaves*

You:

Size of your brain while watching TV

At this moment, as your body stiffens and all the blood rushes back to your TV-fried brain, you remember the homework that was so cruelly assigned to you on Friday.

Well, guess what? It’s all due tomorrow. You procrastinated – again. So what do you do? You watch as your mom leaves the room and then you make like a clumsy ninja and fly over to your backpack, arms flailing, mind reeling, and you get out your crumpled packet of work from the bottom of your bag. You brush off the sandwich crumbs and pencil shavings and think “oh crap.”  Time to pull yet another all-nighter.

All Nighter

What you look like

This not uncommon occurence (I’m guilty of it, too) has many consequences, the most awful one being fatigue. I’m no expert, but I’m guessing you probably value your sleep – a lot. Me too. So all-nighters do not a happy camper make. Without a good night’s sleep, I am a mental trainwreck. And let me tell you, my mind has been a wreck since freshman year of high school.

When I lose this much precious sleep, it had better be for a good cause: I’m two steps away from curing cancer, I’m conducting revolutionary sleep experiments, I’m afraid of the dark, yadda yadda yadda… But no – it’s because of homework. Because I was raised by people who would practically whip me if I got less than an “A,” turning in homework is kind of a big deal. What does this drown me in?

Stress.

That’s what it’s all about (now do the hokey pokey…). It’s what causes my hair to fall out, helps create the bags under my eyes, and what makes those pink elephants appear when I’m half-awake (curse you, Dumbo). But – is it really all that bad? I mean, really?

Really?

I know, I know, I just spent 300 words talking about how bad stress is, but like a story, a coin, or Harvey Dent, there are two sides to it. Yes, stress can weaken your immune system, give you headaches, strain your relationships, (the list goes on). However, it can also be my best friend. Okay, maybe more like a frenemy – whatever that means. Stress is like a 6 1/2 foot boxing coach with grit in his teeth and steel in his eyes. He pushes me forward, makes me work toward my goal, and frightens me out of failure by threatening me with failure. Whenever I want to give up and nod off and drool all over my papers, Stress smacks me in the face with an imagined “F” and scenarios that scare me into academic submission:

If I get an “F,” I’ll fail the class. If I fail the class, I’ll never graduate. Then no one will hire me except for the gas station and I’ll be stuck pumping gas for minimum wage for the rest of my life. I won’t be able to afford rent. I’ll sleep on the street, be beaten up and laughed at by passing gangbangers, develop internal bleeding, won’t be able to afford the hospital bill. And I’ll die a complete and utter failure with no one to cry at my funeral because I won’t even have a funeral… or a coffin…

You don’t need to tell me I have issues and don’t tell me your imagination has never gone that far before. Hey, it works.

So like everything else, stress is good in moderation – can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Sort of. Just don’t procrastinate.
Yeah right.

Images courtesy of Stock.Xchng.