November 30


How I failed my first NanoWrimo and grew anyway

By Tracey Arial

November 30, 2020

For the last thirty days, I have been drafting a mystery novel as part of the national novel writing month, NanoWrimo2020. This has been an awesome discovery journey.

I learned three things about myself:

  • I can write more than 1,000 words an hour consistently, especially first thing in the morning;
  • Getting up and writing in the morning works well for me; I did no write-ins in the evening despite signing up for a few;
  • November is a tough month to do a challenge. When I get side-tracked, it’s hard to accomplish more.

I didn’t win.

The final count for my mystery novel was only 25,381 words. My final tally reached 33,364 with all nonfiction writing included.

I missed writing on many days. There were may more deadlines than planned for this month. Writing in the evening wasn’t something I wanted to do; a multitude of excuses stopped me.

Despite my failure in reaching my goal this time, the experience included many unexpected delights.

Learning Discord

The Montreal chapter communicates on Discord, a communication application popular with gamers. It’s like a cross between a list-serve and Slack. I spent most of my time lurking on others’ conversations, but the fantasy writers kept the channel hopping.

Meeting Montreal Writers

The first day, several people from the Montreal chapter got together for a Zoom brunch. The conversation was a bit stilted, since none of us knew each other, but inspiring just the same. People who commit to a writing goal have lots of productivity tips and the projects we presented are vastly different from one another. This is a super creative community.

Discovering a Great Local Podcast

I wouldn’t have thought to search for a fiction podcast prior to this challenge. One of the writers I met on the initial Zoom breakfast decided to write the third season of Achewillow as his goal. After checking it out, I’m now hooked on the story. It features a chef from Montreal who inherits a bakery in a magical small town. If you like suspense and fantasy, this makes for good listening.

Final Thoughts

The timing for this experience couldn’t be better. I’m busy working on five year plans for my writer career and the publishing company I just founded before the pandemic. NanoWrimo has given me a good sense about how to pace my projects in the coming years. It’s also given me some good ideas for staying motivated when telling a story doesn’t work the way I thought it should.

There’s lots of learning in those lessons.

More than any other benefit, however, was the art of knowing myself. At the beginning of this challenge, I didn’t know if 50,000 words would be doable in one month. Now I know that it is. have enough information to realize that I’ll need to give up some things next November to win.

Thank you to everyone who volunteers for NanoWrimo and to the other writer participants who together create a community that keeps us all motivated.

See you next year.

Tracey Arial

About the author

  • Ambitious challenge for a dull dark month like November. Well done! It’s a very substantial output writing all these words. My personal challenge also came short several chapters… however I may have discovered that short stories are worth more of my attention in the coming months.

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