NaNoWriMo 2020 – The Wrap Up

Starting word count: 25772
Ending word count: 91325
Total words: 65553

I’m looking up at those numbers and I’m feeling very, very surprised that I managed to make all that this month. That I managed to pull that many words out of my head.

I’m surprised almost every year if I’m completely honest — there’s something about seeing that large of a number, seeing that many words in a document and knowing that I, over however many days, managed to pull them out of my head from who knows where — but this year, I’m feeling even more surprised about that number than ever. This, in all honesty, was exactly the kind of NaNoWriMo I needed this year. For the usual reasons like I just want to win, but also the very 2020 reasons like this year is horrible and I need a win. But I also walked into this month with a pretty vicious feeling of… not quite worthlessness, but definitely dejection. A feeling that I was working towards something that was never actually going to end up happening for me (that thing, of course: seeing these books I love published and in the world).

Feelings like that come and go in waves. I’m alright with rejection, really, I know that it’s a part of growing and learning and just being in the world, but it’s when the rejections stack up and my good ol’ friend depression starts thinking about all the ways that I’ve been working towards this thing and failing. Failure is part of the process, a part that I accept and, hell, even welcome because without the failures I’ve had so far, I wouldn’t’ve learnt the lessons I have, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get in my head sometimes.

That I don’t sometimes get stuck in this loop where everything feels more or less pointless and I can’t find a single good reason to keep writing anymore.

This month reminded me that, at the end of the day, while I certainly want my books to get published (and while I’ll definitely keep doing everything I can to make that happen), the writing that I’m doing is for me. That no matter what else happens, I know that I have to tell these stories because of the joy they bring me. Because I have to physically get these characters and their lives and their worlds out of my head because, you know, it’s actually quite difficult (in terms of brain space) carrying all that around all the time.

It’s the glory in scribbling words down on the page and then stepping back and finding that whole world you’ve had in your head. Written down there, come to life. It makes me feel like I’m waving a wand and just conjuring it out of thin air, though my joy and frustration and what the hell is the word I’m thinking of are more than enough evidence that, in fact, it is definitely not as simple as waving a wand no matter what it feels like after the fact.

The tracking is one of my favourite things about NaNoWriMo for that reason because it really brings to life the amount of work that I invested in myself and in the stories I care about. I used to be someone who tracked their word count religiously, but I’m a very type A person and a very competitive person and, honestly, it just got a little unhealthy competing against myself all the time. NaNo, then, ends up feeling like a month where I get to smugly indulge in something that I enjoy doing (i.e.; aggressively tracking my productivity), and I think that this graph might be my favourite:

Not only do I just love a good graph — it really helps me put the numbers into perspective — it’s nice to be able to match the peaks and valleys to specific days, to think about why, maybe, I had such a high on the 9th and why the 7th and the 26th were such lows (not hard to figure out if I look back, but, still). I love seeing the peaks and valleys of the month and seeing that, yeah, even when I had low days, I showed up every day and, at the end of it, I achieved my goal. I didn’t finish my NaNo novel — I’m maybe about 10k away if I had to estimate — so I’m going to work on that in December so that I can set it on the shelf, but I ended the month in a much better mental place than I started and, for that, I’m grateful.

It’s the exact kind of vibe I needed to move into the last month of the year.

If you did NaNo this year, I want to send you massive congratulations whether you won or not — the real victory, always, is just making the commitment and doing your best to show up. That’s where the real work happens anyway, I think, and you should be proud of yourself. I know I’m proud of you.

I’m sending you a massive boost of energy and positivity as we’re moving into December and I’ll see you around the blog soon with… well, something! When I know, you’ll know 🙂

x Elle

Let’s be friends on NaNo (for, you know, next year)! Or you can listen to my project writing playlist!

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