Do. Or do not. There is no try.

It’s IWSG time again! The Insecure Writers Support Group is a place where writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Thanks to Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh and this month’s co-hosts,  Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!

November 1 question – Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

I’ve finished two NaNoWriMo projects, in 2015 and 2016. Neither has been published yet, but I’m working toward that goal. For me, the greatest gift from NaNo was my now firmly-established daily writing habit.

“Winning” my first NaNo was a challenge, especially because November brings family visits and travel, both of which tend to gobble up (sorry, bad pun) my writing time. The second year, finishing was a delight, and I merrily told interruptions to bugger off—in the nicest way possible. And now, I just write for at least two hours per day, often much more. It’s what I do. On days when I can’t get some writing time, I feel itchy and cranky, like an inveterate runner who can’t log her daily miles.

Offers of “book/writing coaching” continually land in my mailbox, and I wonder: Who needs this? Editing help, yes. Someone to bounce ideas off, yes indeed. (That’s why God gave us critique partners.) Marketing advice? You betcha. Writing teachers? Yes, please—though I’ll work through your craft book before I’ll sign up for your workshop or pricey webinar.

But paid encouragement just to write?

A few years back, I attended a panel discussion by four Seattle-area writers. Someone posed this very question: How do you force yourself to write on days when you just don’t feel like it? The speakers exchanged puzzled looks, and then one replied, “If you don’t feel like writing, you’re not really a writer.” At the time, I found that answer somewhat cold—now, I get it.

Sure, there are days when it just doesn’t work out, but I always feel like writing. My first NaNo helped me eliminate the stress of wanting to write but not getting around to it. And, as a pantser, I need to get that first sprawling, messy draft down on paper before I can begin to shape it up. NaNo is great for that phase; what fun to have a bunch of fellow writers urging you on. The Tacoma area NaNos offer lots of gatherings during November—not so helpful for solitary writers like me, but still fun.

Now, if I could just transfer the enthusiastic focus of NaNo to other areas. National Exercise Every Day Month, anyone?

14 thoughts on “Do. Or do not. There is no try.

  1. patgarcia

    YEAH! I love your article. Writing isn’t just about writing when you feel like it. Writing is writing whether you feel like it or not and I’m glad that NaNo helped you get to that point. That means you’re on the road to success.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  2. C.D. Gallant-King

    I used to have a habit but recent life changes have taken away that time. It’s very frustrating to want to write but to literally not have the time or the routine to allow it. Fingers crossed that I can find that time again soon, and good luck with NaNo!

    IWSG November

  3. M.J. Fifield

    I always want to try to parlay NaNo into other areas—like National Exercise Every Day Month, or something, because NaNo works for me. I can never seem to convince myself to work out every day, though. Or, any day, really. 🙂

    Glad you got a firmly-established writing habit out of the experience!

    1. admin Post author

      Here’s my deal with myself. For the whole month of November, I’m not allowed to write a word until I first do some sort of exercise for my abs: planks, bicycles, sit-ups, whatever. I’ve been telling myself for years that it would only take me ten minutes a day to conquer this problem area, but I hate, hate, hate sit-ups.

  4. cheriereich

    I was bad about NaNo when it came to writing every day (though I still managed to get 50,000+ words), yet it did teach me that I could focus on one project and write to completion.

  5. Lee

    I love that quote (thank you Yoda) and use it all the time (much to the annoyance of the “triers” in my life). My frustration is less with whether I want to write and more with what I perceive to be the drivel I do write. And pay someone for “encouragement”? Are they selling bridges, too? 🙂

  6. Meka James

    Before this year, I didn’t write everyday. I always let other things, or just my general laziness put off writing. If I felt like it, then I wrote, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t force it. This year I joined a group called 365 so the goal is to write at least 100 words per day. So far I’ve not missed a day and the year is coming to a close. I’m hoping to hit my daily goal of 600 words a day finally this month, something I’ve yet to do so that’s NaNo’s job.

  7. mirymom

    NaNoWriMo was definitely part of developing a daily writing habit for me. And I appreciate it for forcing me to keep forward momentum and not let a project get backed into a corner or just fizzle out. But like you, I don’t go to the write-ins or any of that. Having other people in the room is just a distraction for me. @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  8. Cynthia

    That’s really impressive that you’ve finished two NaNo projects.
    I think it’s fine if there are days when we don’t feel like writing. In fact, in my recent blog post, I talked about how a writing break was what I needed.


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