How Do You Measure Success? With About 50,000 Words.

After years of participating in National Novel Writing Month I decided that 2011 was the year I was in it to win it.

This past November may or may not have been one of the more successful on record, for me at least.  I keep going back and forth on what I define to be successful but right now, this November is falling into that category. 

This is not to say I have never had “successful” Novembers before.  I have but because I was still in school for almost every November in my past, their entire successfulness was measured by none other than my academic success.  Did I manage to finish every single assignment I had before Thanksgiving?  If so, it was a success!  Did I manage to only need to take home two novels to finish reading in the week of break?  If so, it was a success!  I think you get the general idea here. 

But in all reality, once you’re out of school that entire measuring stick is completely useless both for judging the success of Novembers past, present and future.  The whole achievement of writing 72 papers, reading 49 novels plus those 7,000 pages in The Most Boring Textbook Ever and working on no less than 12 group projects in the few weeks between the first and Thanksgiving really are not as significant as they seemed at the time.  I know that might be a mild exaggeration but the point remains the same. 

So what made this November so successful in whatever strange rules I am attributing to my measure of success?  Oh, not too much except I wrote a novel.  Or, okay, if we are being technical here I wrote about half of a novel since I still have plenty of unresolved plot left to go. 

After years of participating in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month I decided that 2011 was the year I was in it to win it.  Sidenote, I am using the term participating kind of loosely here.  I have never got anywhere near finishing in the past.  Once I made it about a page and a half before giving up.  Another time I made it about 5,000 words.  My past failure was never caused so much by willingness to give up as it was by a sheer lack of plot or even a decent idea. 

I spent the whole of November glued to my laptop for longer than is probably healthy while writing.  I think I actually stayed and sat at Starbucks more in the last month than I have since I started drinking coffee.  Not coincidentally I probably drank more Skinny Vanilla Lattes and Salted Caramel Mochas in a single month than I have in the past.  I also spent way too much time procrastinating, I mean working through writer’s block, on Oh No They Didn’t but that is neither here nor there. 

This year I swore up and down, left and right, sideways and longways that I would finish writing a novel.  And I did, kind of.  I reached 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo which was what I actually meant when I said I would write a novel.  So while I didn’t meet my literal goal, I met the intended one.  And that has got to count for a lot especially considering I fell behind around Day 7 and did not catch up until the final day. 

But the thing is, I still did it.  After years I saying I was going to win NaNoWriMo I finally did it.  I may not have actually finished my novel, but I still made the 50,000 words and that in and of itself counts for a very successful month.  Sometimes it really is the little things that mean the most, you know? 


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Susan December 09, 2011 at 02:32 PM
Congratulations Kaitlyn on achieving such an ambitious personal goal! I hope to be standing in a line for a book signing in the near future.


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