Thanksgiving is a few days away, which means more people will be focusing on what they are thankful for (at least on social media). Thanksgiving also marks the final stretch of NaNoWriMo—a week later is the deadline for participants to reach the 50,000-word goal.
The combination of these events makes me think about how I appreciate my accomplishments as a writer, and how other writers should too.
This past week, multiple major assignments kept me from reaching the NaNoWriMo goal a single day. Along with the stress of school, I watched the gap between my actual word count and my expected word count widen. I updated my word count every day, but sometimes I only managed around 200 words—far from the daily goal of 1,667 words. After keeping up with the goal for the first two weeks of NaNoWriMo, I was frustrated that I couldn’t manage to crank out those words along with my other responsibilities. I focused solely on where I needed to be, and not on the 20,000+ words I had written since November 1st.
I value the importance of keeping a goal in mind and working towards that goal, but sometimes you have to step back and appreciate what you have already accomplished. I applaud anyone who reaches that 50,000-word goal by November 30th, but I also applaud anyone who tried.
If I didn’t decide to participate in NaNoWriMo this month, I would not have added 31,000 words to my manuscript in the past 19 days. Maybe I will reach that 50k, and maybe I won’t. Regardless, I am thankful for the words I did manage, and you should be too. If you convinced yourself to write every day for the month of November, or if you used the chance to rack up more words than you can usually manage, be proud of yourself! No matter what your word count is on November 30th, I expect it’s more than it was on November 1st. You don’t need to go all the way to be successful or to be a winner. Appreciate what you managed to do, and then keep going.
This mindset applies on a wider scale for writers too. Recently I’ve seen a lot of talk on Twitter about the number of years, the number of manuscripts, and the sheer amount of time, effort, luck, and patience that goes into becoming a published author, and continuing to publish afterwards. It’s a constant battle.
If you focus too much on going big, you won’t appreciate what you have managed to do. Maybe you are on your fourth or fifth manuscript and have yet to find an agent. That does not mean those first three or four manuscripts are pointless garbage, or that you should give up. Those manuscripts helped you grow as a writer, and now you can apply better and better skills to each new manuscript you start. Besides, if you love writing, enjoy the process of writing and the stories you have created without singling in on the dream of publication.
Always keep your goals—no matter how large they are—in your mind, and work towards them. But don’t let those goals cloud out your accomplishments—no matter how small they are. Whether it’s NaNoWriMo or your dream of becoming a NYT bestseller, don’t give up if you don’t make it all the way on the first, second, or fifth try. Keep trying, and only go home to write some more.
What are your thoughts? What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
If you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo, check out their website. It’s never too late to start writing.
I write YA fantasy and contemporary fiction. This blog is dedicated to thoughts and advice on writing and publishing, as well as various interests related to the world of Young Adult.