NaNoWriMo ends today, and I’m sure at least some of you are wondering how I did. Was I successful? Did I write 50,000 words in a month?
Unfortunately, no. No, I did not. Some might consider that a failure. For a little while, I certainly did.
However, a major goal I had with NaNoWriMo 2021 was just to write something again. Hitting that 50,000-word goal would have been nice, but that wasn’t the whole point of this exercise. The point was to write.
I absolutely wrote, but if I can be completely honest with you all for a moment here, I didn’t really like what I was writing. This, of course, is entirely my fault.
As I mentioned in my last post, I hadn’t written a proper work of fiction in a very long time. The last time I can legitimately remember writing fiction at all was back in 2013. Some might argue the last fiction writing I did was in 2019, but that’s only if you count play-by-post roleplaying games (and I’m not sure I do). That said, though, there was absolutely a disconnect for me with those posts and any writing I did before that. I honestly felt as though my writing didn’t completely feel like me. It felt more hesitant and limited.
Not only that, but I couldn’t even remember the kinds of things I liked to write, let alone read.
When I started NaNoWriMo earlier this month, I honestly felt as though I had lost my sense of self as a writer. I couldn’t remember who I was as a writer or what I even enjoyed writing. Now that this month is over, I think I have a slightly better idea now.
I’m a fantasy person. Give me fantastical beasts and magic any day. Hell, I built out a very small magic system in one day because I needed it for a plot element that I introduced at the time and it felt good. Could I build out something more complicated? I don’t know, but my building out a smaller magic system for this makes me want to try for another project.
I am not a romance writer. While I enjoy watching and reading romances on occasion, I’m not at all confident in writing one. In fact, at times, attempting to do so made me feel a little uncomfortable. I need some sort of plot in there other than the romance because when the romance is the plot, I honestly feel lost and like I don’t know what I’m doing.
I’m pretty sure I’m more of a planner than a pantser.
For anyone who is confused by the above terminology, let me explain. For the most part, novelists tend to fall into two categories. Planners, as the name implies, will plan every last little detail of their novel. They’ll have a story outline, maybe even a detailed breakdown of how each chapter is going to go. Pantsers, on the other hand, don’t do that. They “fly by the seat of their pants” after latching onto an idea they like and run off with it.
I went into this as a pantser, honestly. Because I chose to start NaNoWriMo 2021 as a spur-of-the-moment decision, I had a concept and a few elements that I knew I needed to include, and that was it. This also meant I had no idea how to connect those elements. Because I didn’t have a concrete idea about how to connect Point A to Points B, C, or D, the scenes I wrote felt confusing and were often things that I thought might be fun to include but ultimately never went anywhere or just didn’t work with what I was trying to accomplish. This, I think, contributed the most to my downfall.
Most importantly, though, I learned I have to like a concept before I start building off of it. I need the idea to be interesting to me. In writing your first draft of a novel or story or whatever it is you’re writing, you are the first audience for your work. So if I’m not completely enthused by what I’m writing, why would I keep writing it?
It was this last one that hit home for me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wasn’t comfy in what I was writing, and I ultimately wound up shelving the project rather than trying to drag out something that didn’t feel right to me.
All that said, though, I still don’t consider NaNoWriMo 2021 to be a failure for me. I wrote. I opened that document and wrote consistently there for a couple of weeks. I wrote fiction again, and it felt good. Doing this honestly made me want to just write more, which was the entire point of this endeavor for me.
I’m already making plans for a separate project, one that I like a lot more than what I was writing for NaNo this year.
Will it become my NaNo project next year? Who knows? But I’m excited to put it on a page in some capacity.