Is It Really Failing?

I decided to try NaNoWriMo again this year. National Novel Writing Month occurs every November and the goal is to write 50,000 words or 1667 words a day for thirty days. (And yes, I know if you do the math, it’s actually 50,010 words.)

I’ve signed up for NaNo two other times. The first year I barely did anything. I had more success on my second attempt. My Facebook memories from two years ago said this: I finished NaNoWriMo thanks to the support of Sisters in Crime and the SinC50K with Sisters in Crime NaNoWriMo Group. I wrote 50004 words plus the 8835 I’d already written. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. When I hit 3000 words today, Bob said why don’t you just try to finish so I did — 4880 today. I’m tired!

That book was Three Shots to the Wind. I wrote it doing a lot of sprints. (A writing sprint is where you write for a specific amount of time without taking your fingers off the keys.) It seemed to come out funnier than some of my books. I always wonder if the sprints had anything to do with that.

This year I didn’t come close to the 50K goal. I only wrote 8,646 words on my new manuscript. However, that’s more words than I started with so that is a win as far as I’m concerned. And I’d already written 6541words. So, all total, it’s about twenty percent of a 75,000-word novel.

A couple of things kept me from finishing. First, I’ve been working on a Hallmark-type holiday romance novel. My original goal was to have it to my agent by October 1. A bout of Covid, and the book needing more editing than I thought it would, put me behind. So, while I wanted to add words to my new manuscript, I also wanted to send off the romance and I did! Finally, on November 15th I hit send. Second, I’m always drained when I send off a project and it took a bit to reorient myself to the NaNo project.

I like these quotes on failure:

“Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” ― Samuel Beckett

“Do not judge me by my successes; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” ― Nelson Mandela

“Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” ― Oprah Winfrey

Readers: How do you feel when you don’t make a goal? Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

35 Thoughts

  1. I always feel, it’s a second chance to do better. I don’t have a quote, but at least one tries when one fails as opposed to not trying at all.

  2. Thanks for the inspiration, Sherry! To paraphrase one I heard years ago: I prepared, and when greatness came, I was ready. From my view, failure goes hand-in-glove with preparation, kind of like wet and water. The quote I like most: Goals are my servants, not my master.

  3. Congratulations, Sherry, on words written during November! I started NaNo early (September!) this year and had a goal of 80K, which I surpassed. However, I’ve dubbed this “The Book That Refuses To End.” At least I’m a lot closer than I was a month ago.

    I’ve only officially participated in NaNoWriMo the last three years. Prior to that, I always said I fed off the NaNo energy, writing more than normal. And I think that’s the most important part. Not reaching that 50K isn’t a failure as long as you put words on the page.

    My inspirational quote that fits here is: Shoot for the stars and maybe you’ll hit the moon.

  4. Congratulations on turning in the romance, Sherry! The only time I tried nano I did not complete it because of Crime Bake and Thanksgiving and all the other things that happen in November. But I pretty much write half a book every month anyway so I think I’m good.

  5. Congratulations for taking on the challenge and using it to your advantage! When I fail a challenging goal, I am usually disappointed but remind myself of everything else I did accomplish, often while I was pushing too many goals to begin with! Gotta prioritize the battles!

  6. I get pissed when I fail at a goal on a personal level. I don’t go on a killing spree or anything but I get mad. I think that’s a natural reaction. But then I level back down to normal and move forward. Either trying to meet the goal again or realizing it won’t happen and move on to something else.

    No quote comes to mind though.

  7. Personally, to me as long as your doing your best, trying your hardest, then there is no failure. I look at as maybe I set my goals just a bit too high. But then again, set high goals continues to give us something to strive for. It’s not fun if it’s way too easy or your know without a doubt that you can do something.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  8. Goals are just that: goals. Something to work toward. If one doesn’t make it by a certain date, the end product is the reward, not the date it was finished.

    My favorite quote is:”I absolutely insist on enjoying life.” Or in slightly other words, I absolutely insist on enjoying life no matter what is thrown at me.

  9. I’ve only succeeded at NANO once, and that book became Death by Blue Water. I do sign up every year, though. This year I realized the book itself wasn’t working and it was back to the plotting board for me. That’s a success in it’s own right. Words come easier when the story is working :).

    You did great, Sherry, you accomplished goals. That’s success! It’s not always about the words.

    My favorite quote: Never, never, never, give up. Winston Churchill.

  10. You only fail if you don’t try, which is pretty much the antithesis of my family’s philosphy, and that which I have to battle every day of my life, (and why I have so little finished or published). You accomplish a lot. I knew that I would never make this, but I did win a small, friendly challenge and made more progress than I ever knew that I could.
    Maybe next year I will shoot to make a dent and a try; you just inspired me!

  11. I like the quote by Will Rogers “The road to success is lined with many tempting parking spaces.” And, recently I read Melissa Shapiro’s book Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf Blind Pink Puppy and His Family. The Shapiro House Rules were: “Always do your best. Practice as much as you can because only through practice will you find out how good you can be. Always try as hard as you can, always give as much as you have…It’s not OK if you don’t try your hardest. It’s OK not to be the best. Make your best effort and that will get you to the front, if not the top (if whatever you do).” Thanks Sherry for reminding us that trying is more important than failure.

  12. Growing up with my grandparents helped get around the “failed” feeling in life. My grandmother told me you only fail if you never try. I have “failed” at completing my secondary education only because, after several tries, of lack of funds. Finally, in 2007, I completed a Bachelor of Science in Business Accounting! It took 27 years to complete what seemed impossible. So, in my case, try, try, and try again does work to change a failure to a completion! 😉🤗💖

  13. Congratulations on the words! And thank you for the quotes. I think that fear of failure is what stops so many people from even trying. But if you don’t try, you can’t succeed. Kick fear to the curb, and keep going!

  14. I really kick myself when I don’t make a goal. I need to learn to look at what I did accomplish, not just what I didn’t finish.

    Congrats on what you did get accomplished even if it wasn’t your original goal.

  15. Congratulations, Sherry! I’ve done NaNo before, and I intended to do it this year, but it just didn’t work. Oh well.

    My favorite is Thomas Edison: I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that do not work.

  16. My Mom always told me to try, try again. You may not have made it this time, but keep shooting for the stars. If I do not make a goal, I try again to do better than the first time. You have to give yourself grace. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  17. I thought about taking part then remembered I’m no good with rules. And funnily enough the minute I told myself there were no rules, I started writing. What this tells me is that there is no one, ‘right’ way. It’s whatever works for you. My quote is: you can’t rule anything in or out.

  18. Hi Sheryl, I’ve only tried to really go with it with Nanowrimo once and it did help with my motivation and self discipline. I can be such a procrastinator sometimes rather than feel any feelings as I go through the process of getting words out of my system.
    Congratulations on your achievement though. Its wonderful that you’ve progressed enough to even have an agent. Well done. I hope someday to be in a similar position. But won’t get there unless I get into a better writing routine.
    I do love writing by the seat of my pants. It’s kind of like exercising a muscle regularly isn’t it? The more we write, the easier it becomes.
    Thank you for your interest post. ☺️

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