The 50K Goal

As any writer is well aware, NaNoWriMo approaches in the distance. Little more than a month away it looms there before us with its beckoning call as we all decide what we’re going to do. For some of us it even raises the question of IF we’re going to do it. That has been a question that comes into my mind often during this particular NaNo. In previous years I’ve always jumped on board the train without any real hesitation, but this year I can’t decide if I should or not. There’s the matter that in every previous attempt I’ve never completed the desired 50K goal. It doesn’t matter if I am pantsing or plotting it falls through. As you can imagine it’s a little. . . depressing. Not to say that I haven’t written decent stuff in those attempts, but it would be nice to complete it.

The daunting aspect for this year is that I really don’t know if I’ll be able to complete it.

Stress eats away at the ability to think in any creative aspect making it impossible to do anything. Sometimes I’ll write then scrap what I’ve written only to try it again with the same outcome. So, do I try again even with this knowledge? On top of that, I have to decide what method to try this year. I’ve tried both pantsing and plotting with both falling through. Someone I know suggested trying the method of writing the ending first then working toward it. I’ve not had much input on how that works though so if you’ve got any to offer that’d be welcome.

This is just a really hard to decision to make and the days are ticking away.

Perhaps I’ll see if any opinions can help by putting the following questions out there: How do you decide whether or not to participate? How do you determine what method you’re going to use to write for NaNo?

Any feedback is welcome so please don’t be afraid to share.


10 thoughts on “The 50K Goal

  1. I entered NaNo three or four years in a row before I finally finished one (earned my badge with 52K). Then the next year, I scratched. Didn’t get past 10K maybe. The year after, I finished, again at just barely past 50K words.

    I say take the pressure off. Look at NaNo as noveling practice. Each year you participate you strengthen a weakness and learn something new. Both important ways to build on your craft. You also end up with a fairly well developed start to a new novel to come back to. I’ve turned two false NaNo starts into finished novels during Camp NaNo.

    Anyway, that’s how I managed to come to enjoy NaNo whether I finished or not. Hope this helps you feel a little less anxious about making the decision for this year :-).


    • That’s comforting to hear. I always hear about successes or failures in straight ways without any follow-up to the latter. It’s nice to know that you still managed to finish these pieces even if it wasn’t during the event itself. Will you be participating again this year?


      • Yup. A year without NaNo has meant a year without a new book coming out and that’s just not acceptable ;-). Besides, I have at least four books languishing on my hard drive that need either total rewrites, or the addition of 50K works to finish them off. NaNo seems to be just the motivation I need to buckle down and get the writing done.


      • A year without a new book?! That sounds like a travesty! I do love my books, I must say. I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, but I’m trying to make up for that lately. Can’t slack as a bookworm! I wish you luck and will be keeping an eye out come November ^^


  2. I just make doing it my default answer, and if I’m going to not do it, I don’t get to decide that until mid-November. So I always start. I’ve given up a couplefew times before hitting the 50k, but oddly enough, those weren’t the years where I went into it thinking I couldn’t do it. The most stressful years I can remember, I still managed to finish; maybe because NaNo actually allowed me to escape that stress without feeling guilty about it. As in, I’m not AVOIDING all these problems, I just DON’T HAVE TIME for them right now because NaNo. Totally legit! 🙂

    I’m a planner, so I always go in with an outline.


    • I’m in full agreement: totally legit. If something allows you to escape the pressures causing stress in your life that’s nothing to skip on, I say. I know stress is highly unpleasant so. . . Sometimes the best way to deal with it and avoid falling beneath its crushing weight is just to find something to take away the focus. Thanks for sharing ^_^


  3. If I have any advice to give, it would probably be: the best way that I’ve found to approach NaNo is with a spirit of mirthful abandon. Writing almost two thousand words a day every day for a month is hard! Especially if you’re not in the habit of knuckling down and forcing creativity out of yourself as a matter of course.

    Things will go wrong, plot holes or mistakes or questions will come up. Plotting things out in advance can help with some of that by giving you a road map, but no matter how much you think you have figured out before hand, when you start to write things will almost inevitably go off of the rails. Writing by the seat of your pants frees you from ever having to worry that something isn’t going as planned, but it doesn’t do much to help you when inspiration isn’t striking.

    I’ve found that as far as my own performance goes, the most important thing isn’t so much how prepared I am as how willing I am to make mistakes, write badly, or tell the wrong story. This isn’t the kind of environment that breeds proper, well-crafted first drafts. It’s a chance to throw your brain into a weird kind of overdrive, and see what happens on the other side. Whatever happens happens! You might fail, but stumble onto an idea that takes root years later and become the next Harry Potter. You might succeed, and end up with 50,000 words of boring useless meandering. (I did that two years in a row.)

    Either way, focusing too much on the serious parts of NaNo is the surest way I know to turn a crazy wind-in-your-hair adventure into a stressful task. There’s no real consequence to failure, and not really much reward from winning. Think about what you could gain whether you win or lose, and see how much fun you can have in the attempt! If it still weighs on you, maybe it’s not the right thing to be devoting energy to right now.

    I hope you can find a way to make it work for you this year, though!


    • Ah, this is really wonderful advice. I know that last year I went hardcore towards the planning in advance as I’d tried pantsing in previous years without luck. The hardest part I found was that if I hadn’t gotten far enough in a certain point of my planning prior to NaNo that I had to stop to research which always killed my muse. There’s also the whole telling yourself not to edit problem, because I can’t help re-writing things if I dislike the way I phrased it beforehand. I know the goal is word count so the wordier the better, so to speak, except sometimes that drives me insane. I guess I need to pay attention to not allowing myself to edit, and find a method that is somewhere between moderate planning and pantsing. That might be a way to get along. Are you planning to participate this year?


      • I’m definitely going to participate this year! I might even have a plan, if I can make the most out of October.

        As far as both the shut-up-your-editor and the wordcount problems go, someone actually gave me a counter-intuitive bit of advice a couple of years back that saved me last year. If you find you’re having troubles with a section, do the exact opposite of what you might be inclined to do; more specifically, start writing more vaguely, covering more distance. Stop with the “Mary looked down at the battered wooden trunk, its latch covered in a faint layer of greasy brown film …” and spend a while sketching out broad strokes. “Mary has a chest. SHe opens it, there’s stuff inside. One of the stuff is a bear. It was her uncle’s bear, she remembers some fond memories she had of him and that makes her remember that she promised to bake a pie for her aunt.”

        Sometimes, going down to almost outline-level simplicity can shake something free in your head – and since you know it’s just a sketch, it can be easier to resist the impulse to go in and edit right away.


      • I actually recall doing this briefly during last NaNo. It didn’t help me then cause I had other stuff working against me in writing, but this is definitely something I’ll have to keep in mind for this year. Anything to nudge the muse out of her hidey-hole! Will be keeping an eye out to see what you go with come November. If you want to add me on the official site I’m cuddlyribbit on there ^^


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