This is my attempt at a post-NaNoWriMo pep talk for… well, no one in particular.
If there’s one theme that I kept running into in and around this NaNoWriMo, it’s this thing: we absolutely should not laugh at failures. I was surprised to hear that last year, less than a fifth of people actually won NaNoWriMo. Failure was a norm. I suppose failure was a norm this year too.
And we should not think something this commonplace should be considered a bad thing. We should learn from it. We should mitigate the damage.
Personally, I’ve always taken NaNoWriMos as an attempt to get something out there. My last year’s NaNoWriMo novel was, incidentally, about getting ideas out there and how random ideas can die with people. It was also one of the themes of my this year’s NaNo. I wanted to complete the novel. I wanted the ideas to be out there. Failure was not an option. And hence I went, and hence I wrote.
At the same time, I was kind of thinking of what one of my former friends was doing. (We drifted apart as a result of things unrelated to art.) He was dabbling on his own writing projects. I honestly don’t think he’s got what it takes to actually finish the grandiose plans. Yet, at the same time, I couldn’t bring myself to make fun of him or his efforts. Why should I? I think his attempts are quite similar to what many NaNoWriMo participants were doing. He’s got a few good ideas and he got them down, presumably. I don’t think we’ll ever see enough material for a proper novel, which might be a shame - while I was still communicating with him I tried to get him to do something about the writings and not give in to apathy. I’m not sure I did enough. His writings might be locked in drawers and never get published, in all likelihood. Much of it mirrors what people in NaNoWriMo were doing - incomplete novels and feelings of failure.
So here I am, trying to say a thing of paramount importance to all NaNoers: even if you didn’t win, I hope you cherish your story ideas and little scraps you managed to put together.
You may have failed to produce this novel. You still need to remember that those ideas are screaming to get somewhere. My this year’s novel was also about reusing all of those ideas that I didn’t get around to using before. It would be shame if all those ideas I dreamed up long ago would never be used.
Do not let your ideas die. There’s nothing worse than a story that didn’t get written when it should have been. Get your ideas on paper. Keep working. Your ideas might be small or insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but all of those ideas have potential to enrichen our little world. Put the ideas in some other stories instead. Complete the novels outside of NaNoWriMo.
There’s no reason to laugh at failures, because if you have ideas, you’ve already won parts of the battle. What you really want to do is to find the inner flame that keeps you refining and producing those ideas and turning them into stories.
Cherish and develop your ideas. Get them done. Get them out there in one form or other. That is what writing is all about and that is what NaNoWriMo is supposed to help you get started on. This has been a starting step on another great journey.