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I'm Kate Risheill. Welcome to my blog on writing.

Lessons from NaNoWriMo: Fail Better

Photo by  rawpixel.com  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

I've written a series of posts on NaNoWriMo, of which this is the last. During November, I learned a lot about my writing, my process, and where I was making mistakes. To be frank, more went wrong in my NaNoWriMo project than went right. However, I don't consider the endeavor to have been an utter waste of time. Rather, the missteps I've made have helped me to realize where I can correct my process and improve my writing.

It is hard to see that something you have worked hard on for many hours isn't turning out the way you want. My NaNoWriMo project's pacing was inconsistent and the character's voices weren't distinct enough, not to mention the larger sense of disjointedness the story had. However, there weren't just issues with the story itself, but also in the way that I was approaching my writing. Some were technical, like needing to plan and pre-write more, but others were more about the mindset I had while writing.  Though I have made many, many mistakes and missteps, I am trying to learn from them.

It is clich√© advice, but when you fall off the horse, you need to get right back on. So my NaNoWriMo project didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. Tough shit. I could wallow and obsess over how bad my writing was, how I should just cut my losses and give up. But I won't quit. Instead, I've taken time to think critically about the work that I've done and look for ways to improve for next time. There's a Samuel Beckett quote that I try to keep in mind: "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." That's my goal: fail better. 

I don't know that any writer feels like their work is God's gift to mankind, an absolute masterpiece that must be shared with the world. At least, I can't think of any writer whose spoken about their own work in such lofty tones. I think most of us look at the work that other writers are doing and can't help but draw comparisons and feel that we are falling short. I don't know that that is necessarily a bad thing. I think that always reaching for more, always pushing our limits and trying to improve makes for better, more engaging writers. So, by all means, try something new and bold. If it fails, reassess and try again.

NaNoWriMo taught me that it is okay to fail, to fall short. I've always loved writing and wanted to be a writer, but I'm also someone who doesn't like failing. I don't like feeling like I don't know what I'm doing or that what I'm doing is wrong. But making mistakes is how we learn, the way that we improve. So, it's okay if my writing doesn't turn out just right. It is okay if I make mistakes. I just need to keep working and improving and, yes, failing better.

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