If you have NaNoWriMo in your sights, you’re probably gearing up right now. NaNoWriMo prep, as has been discussed, is a critical part of success.
Maybe you know your main character. Hopefully you know your villain, too. You know their story line and have seen their world for yourself.
Maybe you’ve done this before and your NaNoWriMo prep is a bit easier. Fifty-thousand words is, arguably, easier the second time around.
You know the challenge up and down. You know the time frame and word counts. You also know how many you need each day in order to make the end.
You know the NaNoWriMo challenge and you are determined to go through Door #1. That’s the one labeled, Success.
Door #2, well, that’s not for you.
But do you know there are three doors instead of just two?
NaNoWriMo Prep: Success & Failure
Success is easy to identify, right? You take up a challenge and you meet it. Simple success could not be any clearer.
NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words in 30 days. You do that, congratulations. You have succeeded by definition.
The idea of failure can be more complicated, although it too is a black and white. You take up the challenge. You hatch a plot. You get up each morning – or stay up past your bedtime, whatever your process. You write on the good days.
On the bad days? Well, you try.
When the end of the challenge comes though, midnight on November 30th, you’re short on words. You did all of the NaNoWriMo prep you could. You read articles. You primed your story pump. You talked about it, soliciting support from everyone in your world. You just didn’t hit it.
Allow me to introduce you to the glorious middle.
What our success driven culture leaves out is that a majority of our attempts fall somewhere in the middle of the fail and succeed extremes. Around 90% of NaNoWriMo participants do not reach the 50,000 words in 30 days.
Does that make them failures?
NaNoWriMo Prep: Introducing Door #3
Confession – I cannot run a mile. I have had bad feet since I was born, and although I’m in otherwise good shape, I can’t make it four times around the track at your local high school.
Let’s say that tomorrow I got the bug to run a marathon. I gave my new goal my all-in best effort, doing everything that I could – gathering information, training according to a schedule, changing my diet – but could only make twenty miles, what would that mean?
Technically I would have failed at completing the marathon. Sure, I accept that. But standing there, surely sore to my bones and covered in sweat, twenty bloody miles further than I had ever been, I would feel… great, accomplished even.
Our culture worships extremes. We are so driven to fit gargantuan, life-defining feats into our already busy lives, we lose sight of those successes in the middle.
Part of your last minute NaNoWriMo prep should be on mentality. Not your character’s thinking – your thinking. Strive and work for the ultimate success… but stay on the look out for a chance to define success your own way.
If you come to the end on November 30th at midnight and you’re short on words, remember you are further into this book than ever. You may be writing the best, most ground-breaking novella in your genre.
If you’re duped into believing that anything short of absolute success is absolute failure, you’re missing part of the point.
Do you have tips for NaNoWriMo Prep that you would like to share? If so, leave them in the comments.
I would love to hear more…
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