November 21, 2012

if at first you don't succeed...

My last two NaNoWriMo projects went really well overall. I thrived on the discipline of sitting down to write with such a specific goal in mind. And I felt proud each day when I had achieved my words. It was not always easy or fun, but the end goal of achieving 50K words felt like its own reward and generally kept me going. If I missed a day, the result was that I felt even more determined to get back on track the next day. By the end of each project, despite this discipline, I had fallen behind on my word count and my daily goals had grown steep in order to finish on time. But I was really motivated by all the discipline I had exercised in keeping up as well as I had. And so on the last two or three days of each project, even though my word count goal had grown higher in order to finish out my commitment, I felt the reward right around the corner and could not bear to give up. Each year, I hit my goal and felt a rush of rewards gained from that sense of accomplishment. 
This year has been the one to break my NaNoWriMo cycle of motivation. Despite all these little captured moments of sugar and caffeine motivation over the past few weeks, I have missed so many days of NaNoWriMo writing. I have felt more tempted than ever to throw in the towel and let myself give up on my goal. Life has thrown some curveballs, and I could tabulate and analyze them to death. But in doing so, I would put off my project a little longer and probably even find a way to justify it to myself. But yesterday, when I sat down and calculated how far behind I had fallen and what it would take to make up the difference, I could not bring myself to give up. I think it is really important to face failure in life, and to accept that sometimes we simply do not live up to our own ambitions or expectations. But I guess what I am realizing is that the failures I believe in facing are the situations when I at least know I have really tried. Sometimes embracing failure does require me to completely let go of a goal or expectation I have placed on myself. But sometimes it means I have to pick back up and keep on going. 
At this point, it will take 3000 words per day for me to hit my NaNoWriMo word count goal on time. I achieved 3000 words yesterday, and I just finished 3000 more to achieve today's goal. Two days accomplished out of eleven remind me that it is possible for to make it there. As I sit down each day with this goal that has grown so much more daunting,  it will be easy to feel defeated going in. And there is no guarantee that the quality of the words will increase with the quantity. But that was never the point of this project, only a sideline goal. The project is an exercise in disciplined writing time, a chance to focus my energy on a challenging goal. And this brings me back to my idea of failure vs. success. I believe that sometimes giving up, or letting go, is failure, and sometimes it is a gift of self-love. How do you know the difference? By digging deep and answering honestly. What motivated your goal in the first place? Was it a reasonable goal? Did you "fail" because you didn't try, or because the goal was too hard? Those answers can only lie deep within each of our own hearts and minds. If we accept failure without a deep sense of peace, then we will position ourselves as our own worst enemy.
I am facing failure aplenty. I have failed to keep up with my words, I have failed to produce the quality of writing I had dreamed of for this project. But I am not ready to give up, and because I am not ready, to do so would be to fail my very self. What I feel deep inside is not a desire to let go, but to keep on fighting. I can make sure that I do not miss my goal without giving the best fight I can. So I will do everything I can to sit down to the page for these next nine days to write my three thousand words. And if I miss a day, I will have to write more. But if I give up on my goal, I am not simply facing failure, I am giving myself over to it entirely, against the better judgment of my own heart and mind and conscience. 
Wherever you are yourself with your own writing or creating, NaNoWriMo or otherwise, I hope you can find the gifts of self-knowledge and peace that will help you know your own parameters of failure and success. And for my part, I am going to do my very best to keep on keeping on... and perhaps my leftover birthday cupcakes will help keep me going! 
(Can you believe my local Sprinkles has a Cupcake ATM?!? It is there for a reward at any time of day or night... look here to see if your city has one!!)


  1. Love you!
    I tried to do it, but didn't get very far. It's HARD.

    I seriously cannot wait to read your book one day. It's going to amazing!

    1. Thanks, Elsie!! Means the world... truly!! xo

  2. This was so encouraging to read! I can definitely relate with studying for school this year...Press on!!

    Joanna :)

    1. Thanks, Joanna!! Best of luck as you finish out your year!! xo