NaNoWriMo 2013: Mixed Success

It’s time for a NaNo wrap-up post, and I’m mildly dismayed to say that I did not win. I came close, though:

Ashley - NaNo 2013 Statistics


The Bad

You can look at that and see that the mixture of apathy and frustration are to blame — I had so many days where I had no words, or under 1,000 words. The end result was day 30: 10,500 words to go.

I did some pretty heroic one-day word counts during Camp NaNo 2012. In June I did something like 6,000; in August, closer to 8,000. This seemed like an extension of that.

In the early afternoon I determined that I could get a lot of words in 25 minutes. I made plans. I wrote like the fucking wind.

I made it to about 5,000 words at 5 PM — and I started to feel an anxiety attack come on. I wanted to quit. The idea of quitting made me anxious and angry. Typing made me anxious and angry. Sitting at the computer made me anxious and angry.

You’re seeing the pattern, I’m sure.

My nemesis heckled another 1,000 words out of me, but I had to step away at about 6 PM. I got ready for our “Thank God It’s Over” party, with the intention of sitting down with my laptop and hammering out more words while we were there.

Nope. I sat there drinking a beer, trying to manage my child and my word count, and I thought, “You know what? I’m sitting at the rowdy table with my friends. I can have fun with them and feel fine, or sit here and try to fight tears for the next 5,000 words.”

I got drunk on wine, played Cards Against Humanity with my friends, ate Taco Bell, and lost my first NaNoWriMo since 2010.

The Good

So, that all sucks. Except I’m feeling okay about this for three reasons.

1. I did not prioritize writing over my mental health. I haven’t had an anxiety attack in months — not since moving last summer, and maybe even a little bit before that. It was part of why I got pretty angry when I felt it simmering, because fuck you brain chemicals you don’t own me.

2. I wrote 45,000 words in 30 days. It may not be the goal — it’s certainly not as catchy as “50,000 words in 30 days” — but it’s a major success. Not only is a solid start on a project I feel pretty good about, but it’s the most I’ve written all year. Before this, the most I’ve written in 2013 was the two-week period back in July when I wrote 17,500 words about splitting up with my ex-husband.

Don’t get me wrong, that (unfinished) project was very cathartic, but it also wasn’t what I wanted to do. All attempts at writing fiction before this fizzled out before hitting 5,000 words. Now, I actually want to get back to writing fiction, and am making tentative next-step plans for mid 2014.

3. I did beat my nemesis. It may not have been to 50K, and sure, he gave up before I did — but whatever, I’m still taking the win.

Ashley M. Hill found her voice in science fiction when her curiosity about technology coupled with the lifelong urge to tell stories. Her interest in social and feminist issues shapes how she approaches the genre. She's pursuing computer and network repair for her day job.


  • You did great work this year, Ashes. Even Chris Baty agrees that 50,000 is an arbitrary number and the true purpose of NaNo is to get you actually writing. It’s the deadline that’s important. Each NaNo is a learning experience for me, and it sounds like you learned a lot yourself this year. And you did, indeed, beat your nemesis. Way to go! We’ll give it another go in January, for the Lawrence Novel Writing Month!

    • Ashley Hill says:

      Thanks! :D I’m trying really hard to hold onto the enthusiasm so I don’t do what I do every year, but work is so nuts that I’ve written next to nothing this months. (That said: Christmas is coming. I’ll have time then, lol.)

      I’m legit excited for JanuNaNo. (I’m making that forum right now I don’t even care.) I like the idea of having something structured but not as frantic, and having something to do in January.

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