Post NaNoWriMo Insecurity (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

Author’s Note: Another first Wednesday of the month, another post for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Be sure to check out the many other writers participating in this blog hop. Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for leading the IWSG. Thanks to the awesome co-hosts for the December 4 posting of the IWSG Julie Flanders, Heather Gardner, Kim Van Sickler and Elsie is Writing!

This Blogging Things Works Wonders! (Insecure Writer's Support Group)


I wrote a post last night talking about what to do post-NaNoWriMo, and how despite not reaching your 50,000 word/30 day goals, you shouldn’t consider yourself a failure. I didn’t make it to 50,000 words in 30 days, yet I’m refusing to hang my head in shame. I got started on a work-in-progress, and I’m extremely excited about the direction the WIP is going. I can’t be bothered with “winning” and “losing,” and I cringe everytime I see someone refer to themselves as a “failure” for not “winning” NaNoWriMo.

I posted this on my Instagram feed last night


My post earned the following comment: “So the other people should be declaring themselves failures?”

I responded, “Nope. NaNoWriMo unintentionally creates this “winners” and “losers” mentality, meaning quantity somehow trumps quality. No one should declare themselves anything, except “finished” when they’ve reached the last page of their novel.”

It got me thinking about a lot of the congratulating that’s taking place by those who’ve “won” this year’s NaNoWriMo. Of course they should congratulate themselves, and hold themselves up for praise. I congratulate you, as a former winner myself. However, I can strongly feel the insecurity from those of us – well, I’m excluding myself, for obvious reasons – who are made to feel that just because we didn’t finish what we set out on beginning November 1st, that somehow we’re “losers.” Or “failures.”

Writing is a competition in which the only person you’re being challenged with is yourself. It’s like a marathon, and you’ll hear a lot of comparisons made to running and writing; Haruki Murakami even wrote an entire memoir called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. You’re not competing with other writers to see who can reach 50,000 words first. You’re competing with yourself to see if you can write the novel you’ve already written in your head.

As writers, we deal with enough insecurities, about our writing, about the publishing process, about whether or not we’re cut out for this whole writing thing in the first place. What we don’t need is the good intentions of NaNoWriMo to foster needless competition, thereby further fueling our insecurities.

Me thinks this writer may skip NaNoWriMo 2014, just on principle. What say you?


25 thoughts on “Post NaNoWriMo Insecurity (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

  1. I say that I will probably do it again next year because otherwise I tend to slack off of writing at all in November. That is not to say that I stuck to the so many words a day nonsense that they tout over there as the way to go. I instead happened to go on a writing spree where I wrote several thousand words a day in that last week and just happened to end up with enough to ‘win.’ But I agree on the people who didn’t finish aren’t losers and probably a majority of the 50,000 words most wrote in November will no doubt need to be edited because it wasn’t the best.

    • Once the post-NaNo hangover wears off, then the harsh reality to having to read what you’ve written sets in. A lot of people give up right there, which is a shame. It’s all about finishing what you start.

  2. Pingback: Bold Writing Will Get You Published | Jen's Pen Den

  3. I still don’t get the other person’s comment to your instagram note. The point is, nobody’s a “loser” or “winner”…we’re simply “writers” writing in unison one month, seeing how much of our respective novels we can “finish” in that given period of time. I’m happy as “crap” for the 10K+ words I wrote, and will continue until “finished.” The “losers” are the ones who think they’re “finished” and go straight to “self-pubbing.” No, let me correct that…the “losers” are the “readers” who spend their money on those “books.” And yes, if I were standing there, I’d be making those obnoxious “rabbit ears” with my fingers every time I used “quotes.” Even all the ones I went back to and added for “effect.”

  4. Hi Gus, I agree, there is a plethora of drivel out there and much of it is self-published eagerness metered with ignorance. I’m hosting the NaNo SURVIVORS party tomorrow nite (wish you were coming!) and it isn’t about who “won or lost” but each person who tried to put butt in chair every single day and work the words. Oh sure, there’s going to be those who yell “finished” and I just shake my head. But the cream always rises. Always. And those among us who are real writers, know the hard work is ahead. I’m with the other commentor. The only losers are those who quit, or who finish but don’t “finish,” or who wasted their time playing at writing. The rest of us are motoring on and will have something awesome to show for it. No matter how long it takes. That’s winning.

    Writing is hard work. It takes a special kind of masochist to stick with it. 🙂

    • Well said, Sherry! I couldn’t have stated it better myself. There’s a lot of hard work ahead, and it really takes a special kind of lunatic to subject themselves to it. Good luck to you, Sherry!

  5. Nice post! I will stop referring to myself as a failure, and start celebrating the 25k words I DID write this month 🙂
    I actually slowed down writing and didn’t meet my NaNo goal because I was feeling that the words were wasted, because they were not the style/quality I wanted to be producing. Thanks for the reality check (insecurity abated…for now)

    • The way I look at it, any writing accomplished is an achievement worth celebrating. Besides, there are far more important writerly things to feel insecure about.

      Glad I could help, Amelia!

  6. Plus a thousand!

    I may or may not do NaNo next year. What is more to the point is that I will keep writing like it’s NaNo pretty much all the time. Write every day, or edit, or both, but know that when I’m ready to start the next new novel (I haven’t even finished this one yet!) I will know that it works well to focus like crazy on it and write it as fast as I can.

  7. ive never tried the NaNoWriMo! i don’t think i will either
    putting in 500 words a day will get you done a 90,000 word book in 6 months and i think that’s pretty good right there!

  8. I think anyone who keeps at it is a winner no matter the word count. I like feeling the pressure of NaNo, and I’ve slacked a bit since then (and also had finals to bust out for college), but the work always continues and the point is to just keep going. 🙂

    • My challenge is transitions–from one project to another. Maybe some down-time is needed, but it’s awfully easy to let the break stretch on!

    • Exactly. You need to keep at it, whenever, wherever. If you become fixated on word counts, then you lose track on what’s important, and that’s to keep writing, even if it’s just 500 words.

  9. I didn’t take part in 2013, but I got a 28,000 first draft finished in November 2012 and I’d consider myself a ‘winner’ because of that – I completed a coherent story in a short period of time, and that’s ultimately the whole point, not the numbers.

  10. I wrote 54,000 words in November (ignoring my blog to do so). I felt happy at the end of it, but I wondered, what’s wrong with me that I needed that NaNo motivation? I haven’t written anything since.

    • A few things might be in order: find yourself some writing partners who’ll keep tabs on you on your progress. Or post your grievances on your lack of progress on your blog. You might find others can give you the motivation you’ll need. Food for thought.

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