Success – Failure and NaNoWriMo

Today is 1st November – beginning of yet another NaNoWriMo.

For the last three years I have been trying to finish NaNoWriMo (i.e. write 50k words in the month of November). The story that I am working on has been in my head for more than six years now. But even then I can not write more than 10k. And this is not due to my laziness. I analyzed my failures and realized that I stop at exactly the same point every time I start this project. Mainly because I don’t know how the story moves forward from this point. I mean I have a very clear idea of how the story begins and what happens at the end. But it’s the middle portion that I am struggling with. I don’t know how to take my story from starting point to end point.

I needed to plot my story. And not just plot but I also need to have a clear idea about my characters, and about the world this story takes place. In short, I need to prepare well before I start writing my story. Now, to prepare well, I first needed to learn how to do all this. Thus I worked on plotting courses online. There are so many good ones provided by great writers.

Now, I know many of you may feel differently but this is what I needed to do this time. There is no guarantee that I will finish my story this month. But at least right now I know where my story is headed and which journey my characters are about to take.

You know, we hear so much about failures and how failing is actually important to succeed. But all these advice comes from people who have overcome their failures and are successful when they are narrating their stories. Since most of the narratives come after the fact (rather long after the actual failure occurred), the image becomes distorted. Most successful people glamorize failure. No one talks about the ugly side of it. No one talks about how painful it can get in the moment or how the distress can keep on increasing with time as we pile on guilt on ourselves. No one talks about the fact that only a small fraction of people actually overcome their failure and get their definition of success.

I am not an expert at either success or failure. But I can summarize what I learned from my failures –

  1. We remember failures more than success and that’s why the lessons learned from failure stays with us more than lessons learned from success.
  2. Success and failure are subjective definitions. Others may find you super successful but for you, this success doesn’t measure up and you keep focusing on what you feel is your biggest failure
  3. This too shall pass – Nothing lasts forever, neither success nor failure. We have control over only the present moment.

Today is the first day of November. And I am done plotting, naming my characters and locations (up to last year, I didn’t even name all the places and people). I have deleted everything I wrote up till now on this project since I want to start with a clean slate. I have some holidays coming up in this month which I am planning to utilize well.

I have failed at NaNoWriMo so many times but I have never given up. I am counting on this resilience to help me write consistently. I have noticed that every writing session, I struggle for the first 500 words or so. I struggle to focus, I feel tired, I get distracted and want to do anything but write. But once I am over that initial resistance, I can actually write over 2K words in one sitting. this just feels like the inertia of rest and inertia of motion. a body in rest will stay in rest until an external force is applied. Now, since I no longer live with my parents who constantly apply external force, nor am I a student with assignment deadlines and professors bugging us every single day, I have to apply the required force myself.

Let’s see how I do over the next 30 days. Either I will write 50K words or I won’t. Either case, I know I will learn something new.