Half Full (NaNo edition)

Since I’ve had to give this speech several times of the the weekend at the just-completed OryCon in Portland, OR, I figured I might as well just post it for everyone.

As you are now approaching the halfway point of this year’s NaNoWriMo, many of you need to celebrate one key aspect of things. Too many of you will lock in on the fact that you’re behind on your expected wordcount. Today, being the 12th of November, you would hope to be at or ahead of 16,000 words. Many of you are, and YAY!

For those of you who aren’t, you need to remember to stop and look at the glass as being half-full. How many words do you have done? Especially compared to your normal month? When you get to the end of NaNo, even if you didn’t complete your 40, you still need to remember that you wrote.

I can’t tell you how many writers I know who lock themselves in on all the negative emotions when they can’t write as much or as fast as they originally wanted. That, in turn spins them downward into a destructive cycle from which it takes so much energy to escape. Many writers never do.

You are a writer. You do something that very few other people do. Celebrate that. the glass is not half empty. That glass will ALWAYS be half empty, especially with all the awesome ideas you want to pursue and write one of these days. I can’t tell you of the lists of novels and series I want to spend time committing to paper.

It is also half full.

Half full means you have accomplished things. Revel in them. List down all the wins you’ve had this year, rather than any of the places where you might have fallen short of your original goals.

I know people who do challenges, where they try to do something crazy like write 30 short stories in 30 days. Frequently, they only write something like 20 or 25, and get down on themselves. In missing 30, they don’t honor that they have 20 new short stories that they can publish or submit somewhere. They think they have failed because they missed hitting the impossible goal. They have ONLY written 20 new short stories. (Seriously, people. WTF?)

I know people who thrive on challenging themselves to the impossible, and never let it get them down if they miss. But most writers are most emphatically not in that category, and it gets toxic after they think they are a failure.

You aren’t. You write.

Even if you only wrote two sentences today, you wrote. That’s all it takes. Put words to paper. You will have good days and bad days. Make hay on the good ones and don’t let the bad ones defeat you.

If you miss your NaNo target, the point is to to just keep writing into December so that the novel gets done at some point. You only can fail when you let yourself give up on writing. Nothing short of that counts.

And remember, you are not alone out there. There’s a whole tribe of writers and creatives who can help when you have questions, because that’s what we do.


Now, a word from our sponsors. 🙂

NaNoWriMo does an official story bundle each year. I’m in it this year, but every year it is chock full of useful information from a number of people, any of which might help you take the next step or at least understand that self-care is the single most important thing you can do as a writer.

Never let the bastards grind you down.

Now, go commit some novel.