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How to Fail NaNoWriMo with Grace

Aimee Jodoin

Editor’s Note: We are encouraging Deputy Editor Aimee Jodoin’s literary ambitions while using her as a guinea pig. We ordered her to write for her food and participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo, but do it on her own time outside the office just like everybody else. We are just mean like that. Aimee is writing weekly updates. Read week one, week two, and week three.


We are nearing the end of November. NaNoWriMo is almost done. But at 32,185 words, I know I won’t be able to make it to 50K. I can’t write 17,815 words in five days, especially when I’ll be out of town for Thanksgiving with the family for at least two of them. This doesn’t mean I’m quitting, though. This doesn’t mean it’s the end.

If you’re like me and won’t be winning NaNo this year, you can still fail with grace. Here are three ways you can keep your head up high.

Remember the Journey

NaNo is not a competition. It is not a race. Even though it may seem like it at time, with the word count tracker in your face everywhere you look, remember that it’s not meant to intimidate you or make you competitive with your friends; it’s meant to be a tool to keep you motivated and to help develop your self-discipline.

The people in the NaNo community are there to support you on your journey. The word count tracker is there to help you monitor your progress and to show you what days are good for you to write and on what days you may not be at your creative best. NaNo is meant to teach you how to write, to show you when you can and should write, and, most importantly, to simply get you writing. It’s the process that you learn the most from, not the crossing of the 50K mark.

Tell Your Story

Another way to learn from your NaNo experience is to teach about your NaNo experience. Share, like I am doing here, what worked for you and what didn’t. Putting your thoughts on the challenge into concrete words, and then reading them, is a great exercise in discovering your unique writing do’s and don’ts (not everyone has the same ones!). And perhaps you will give your fellow writers some new ideas on how to develop their own methods that they had never thought to attempt before.

Keep Writing

At the start of the month, you believed in your story. You knew this was the story you had to tell. Recall your passion. Maintain your drive. Understand that slow and steady will still get you to the end eventually. A novel completed six months down the line is still a completed novel. Keep writing, and you will know that NaNo has not failed you. It has taught you how you write best.

NaNo is not a one-size-fits-all challenge. It is not for everybody. I don’t think it’s for me. I can write 1,000 words a day, but 1,667 a day burns me out after three weeks. NaNoWriMo was simply a trial in my trial-and-error writing venture. While it might not work for me, I think I know what to try next. I’m not upset with myself for not reaching 50K—I’ll get there eventually—but I’m certainly glad I tried.


Aimee Jodoin
Aimee Jodoin is deputy editor at Foreword Reviews. You can follow her on Twitter @aimeebeajo.

Aimee Jodoin

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