Congratulations! You’re 19/30ths of the way through #NaNoWriMo, probably finished already, or you’ve given up, and you’re trying to spend this Thanksgiving week *off of work* justifying your existence as an “aspiring” author.
Of those who are 19/30ths of the way through, 29/30ths were likely quite eager about the whole endeavor, but only 7/30ths are feeling the same way at this point.
For the remaining 23/30ths of you: Make the call. Cut your losses. Quit with dignity.
That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.
Dear Writing All Wrong,
How would you suggest finishing my #NaNoWriMo novel, when I’m halfway through the month, but not even a quarter of the way through the novel? Is there some kind of trick for taking ten thousand words and stretching them out to fifty by month’s end? Thanks.
—Jayson Ponds, Fleming, N. Y.
(Note: NaNoWriMo is short for Narcissistic Nonsense Writing Motivation or something like that. Simple premise: write a “novel” of fifty-thousand words within the month of November. The prize? Fifty-thousand dollars. In the competition’s 197-year history, only five writers have claimed the prize.)
Nope, there’s no trick.
Unless you’re looking to extinguish your sleeping nights and days for the next two weeks, sacrificing your Thanksgiving week off for a futile goal, miring though spiteful word-slog you’ll be regretting as you wrote and forgetting within hours, then call it.
You know that saying, “Don’t quit while you’re ahead?” There’s an oft-ignored corollary: “Do quit while you’re behind.”
As long as there are Novembers, there are #NaNoWriMos. You might need to lick your wounds, then lick them some more, lapping up the seeping blood, burning its taste into your mouth.
Winners aren’t winners because they “never gave up.” No, they won. Losers are persistent. That will do. You’ll need it for when you learn to win. Then you win more.
But quit with a lesson learned. A purpose for the next round. Competing just because your cadre of writing cheerleaders spurred you on? Contesting to prove your “credentials” as a writer? Chasing a thrill that turned into more chase than thrill? Challenging for the sake of fitting in and crowdsurfing along an imagined wave of significance?
Be a fighter second, a writer first. You can win #NaNoWriMo every year, and still rate a lousy writer, never having churned anything more significant than what will be chummed to the sharks of time. You’d rather be 49,999 words short of winning NaNo, while penning only what will sharpen your mind, engage your reader, and spur your own self on to polish your craft.
Quit being the poseur you never wanted to be. Quit chomping at the tails and entrails of contests and retreating goals. Quit burning to burn, writing for no other purpose other than to write, driving yourself into a cyclic hole. Quit shooting for goals of numbers over goals of artistry, aesthetics. Quit letting the false ideal of quantity be your success, and the lack of wordcount your failure.
Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).