Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Sweet Smell of... Defeat

By Meghan B.

I do this crazy thing every year. I told you about it a few weeks ago. That's right, the whole "write a novel in a month!" insanity. I encouraged you to join me in the outright blistering madness of NaNoWriMo. "Let us frolic in a meadow of our 50,000 words!" I suggested.

I am full of monumental levels of shit. What started as a strong first two days quickly petered out into a massive ocean of fail, populated by failwhales and failoctopi and failsharks. After 2,000 words, I found myself unmotivated, depressed and unable to move my otherwise genius story along. In other words, I suck.

Failure is important, though. I think everyone should learn from their fails (and not the "play them off, keyboard cat!" type of fails either). My failure was being too ambitious and not pushing myself. I was also afraid to suck. No one wants to suck. Sucking... sucks.

So I wanted to take this moment to learn from my failure and ask others about some moments that turned sucky and failtastic that they learned from too.

Maureen Johnson, queen of Twitter and author of YA literature, did a youtube video a year ago about the importance of sucking as a writer. She's also doing a hilarious but thoughtful and very helpful daily blog about writing.

So join me, friends, in celebrating our failures and hoping to learn from them. You watch out, November 2012, I am going to WRECK you!

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  2. Speaking of fail, I totally messed up my first comment with some uber failness.

    Don't feel bad. NaNo is terrifying, especially for me! I am doing pretty good, but that is only because I failed HARD with my first novel attempt a few months ago. But you are right, I had to fail in order to figure out what I was doing wrong, which was A LOT. My first novel SUCKED. It literally only needs two final chapters and I can't even bring myself to look at it. NaNo scared me because I was so afraid to suck again, but pushing through all the suckage is really working.

    This suckage is creating a GREAT backbone for my current NaNo WIP. And I will have all of December and January to make it unsuck before I e-publish and or query.

    Failing, it is a part of life. It is what we do with the lesson we learn from it that matters!

  3. I've been trying to use NaNo to push myself past the wall I hit with my current WIP, which stalled out at about 13,5K. I made it to just past 17K about halfway through the first week, then everyone in the house got the flu. Since then, I haven't been able to get back into my groove. I still have hope that I'll hit stride, but I have mega plans for a ren fair this weekend, so I'm prepping for that and...we'll see. The thing to remember is that you have to look at what you CAN achieve and not what you DIDN'T achieve. If you are spending all that time beating yourself over the head, you're wasting a great deal of precious writing time and planning time. Instead, see what you can finish, or start over and try to knock out 25K of a really awesome book. You can make it what you want to make it.

  4. I'm not doing NaNoWriMo (I'm not sure if I should rub that in people's faces or feel jealous of you all) but I'm working on a book and I feel stupid whenever I work on it.

    Don't get me wrong. I feel creative and I have fun and witty when I do it but when I'm finished, I can't look at it for weeks because I'm going to hear in my head "Wow, this is garbage! I can't believe you actually focused long enough to suck that bad!" I'm slowly feeling better about it but it's hard.

  5. Personally I don't think writing a novel in a month is something a writer should aspire to. Write three short stories in a month and get them in the pipeline to sell, that's a worthy aspiration. It's been decades since I've tried to sell short fiction (quickly discovered there was piles more money, more easily made too, in non-fiction) . But I do believe that learning to write well by writing short stories is good way to learn to write novels.