Lessons From Failure

About a month ago, I announced that I had begun my second novel. Not only that, but I was going to finish it, or hit 50000 words before the end of November as part of NaNoWriMo.
I did not. In point of fact, I stalled out about halfway through the month at roughly 20000 words and ten chapters.
Technically, this counts as failure. I mean, I set a goal and didn’t meet it. Now, I could hang my head in shame. I could take this as a sign that I’m not cut out to be a writer. After all, I wrote my first novel in less than a month. Sure, it was super short at roughly 35000 words in the first draft, but I finished it. (And, yes, the second draft is more than twice as long)
I’m not going to do that, though. This little endeavour taught me a few important things. First and foremost, it taught me that this style of daily goal oriented writing simply does not work for me. The NaNoWriMo model gives you a daily suggested word count. It’s not static, mind you. It is the number of words left to reach your goal divided by the number of days left, or at least I think so. I found that super daunting.
Secondly, I don’t evidently like reporting daily progress when it comes to writing. With my first novel, the only goal I set for myself was “write something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph”. I managed that. I made progress every day. It was almost always far more than a paragraph, but on the odd day where I was super busy or tired, and only managed that little bit, I still felt as though I had accomplished something. Doing it this way made me feel as though I had failed more than once.
I also learned to listen to my gut. See, he place I stalled out was right after a day where doubling up was the theme. Double the words written, doubling up on donations, and the like. I decided I would surpass twice the number of words I’d managed so far. The trouble was, I’d had some super productive days already. Doubling that pushed me further than was reasonable. I wanted to stop, and didn’t. The next day, I felt burnt out, so took a day off. The next day was a work day, so I didn’t write anything. Then I felt ill the next day, and so on. I haven’t made any progress since then. I should have listened to my little inner voice.
I also learned that the NaNoWriMo template is really hard for me to use with my screen reader. Reporting my daily word count was very tricky, which led to frustration. Frustration is not a great state of mind in which to write.
But the most important lesson I learned is that it’s okay to fail. Not meeting my NaNoWriMo goal doesn’t mean I’m not going to finish this book. I am. I simply decided to put it on hold until the month was over and pick it up again without the pressure. Failure taught me what not to do in the future. Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what works.
So, yes, technically I failed. But I also won, because I learned some hings about how I write, and that’s valuable.  I also learned that minor failures aren’t enough to dissuade me from this crazy dream of mine.
Onward and upward.
Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

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