Admitting Defeat

keep-calm-and-accept-defeat-11This year I decided to pick up NANOWRIMO for the 4th time. Previously, I had been involved with the global writing project committing to writing 50,000 words in one month and won two out of the three times I participated. And even though I am in my senior year of college, working two part-time jobs, and keeping an internship, I decided that this was a great time to dust off my manic writing skills.

I was delusional.

Perhaps participating in this event is like what is said about childbirth, you forget about just how bad labor is until your pregnant again.

Sure, I prepped. I read blogs and charted my calendar with word goals. I even participated in a couple of prewriting strategies to prepare me for what story I was going to write. Worse than having personal confidence I made a devastating mistake, I told my friends and family on facebook what I was planning to do. Encouraging messages and texts were sent asking about what I was going to write next. I was motivated and ready to begin and this time it was going to be better than I ever was before.

Yes, everything looked so good until disaster struck. I made it all the way to day five and was flounder to realize that the story I was writing was complete and utter garbage.

I was more worried about completing my word count than I was about the material I was producing. As time progressed, I dreaded the time I was beginning to waste staring at my characters and forcing them to interact. I was too proud to give up that easily, however, I only made it to day twelve before I had to call it. My story was dead. Motivation, gone. Will, crushed.

Is this how other writers feel when they are placed on a deadline for a popular series?

Not to say that I am a popular writer, I’m nobody. I’m just a girl with a dream casting out words into an open market with a population of readers subjected to quick fixes and fast drama. But in saying this it makes me realize how unnerving it must be to be on contract to write something that you just don’t believe in.

How do writers like J.K. Rowling and Janet Evanovich make sense of stories that could be great in time but are a pain to produce?

I wish I knew.

Until then, I have admitted defeat and it feels more amazing than I could have ever imagined. I have liberated myself. I erased all the day’s word goals on my calendar and replaced it with one that was more manageable, one that I could accomplish without dread or contempt.

Free write every day for fifteen minutes.

No word counts. No pressure to stay on one story. No forcing things that won’t come.

What started to feel like failure turned into something I was proud of. Failure is important in writing because it shows us that just like relationships or best laid out plans, life is out of our control and as such we must embrace it with every twist and turn. Maybe I’ll come back to these characters and write something better with new inspiration, or maybe I won’t. Either way they will be memorialized in my oeuvre as a time I admitted defeat and gained more than I could have ever possibly have lost.  


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