The thoughts and work of Sam Witt

The Gift of Crushing Defeat

As of one minute ago, NaNoWriMo 2013 is history. I had big plans, a full outline ready to write, and a clear path from start to finish. I was fully prepared to end NaNoWriMo with a victorious shout

Woodcut illustration of the defeat of Cyrus II by Tomyris, Queen of the Massagetae

of “Hell, yeah!”

Instead, I wound up with 10,000 decent words and a miserable, dejected, “Shit.”



We’ve all got excuses and reasons – mine was two weeks of literally non-stop day job bullshit that ran straight through the second and third weeks of November like a bullet train filled with pain. I did manage to keep Half-Made Girls going through that mess, so that’s something, but my big NaNoWriMo plans just didn’t pan out.

I’m going to give myself a good fifteen minutes to grouse about not hitting my goal. I suggest you join me and we can wail and gnash our teeth in harmony at the cruel gods that denied us our glorious 50k badges and gloating privileges for the next year.

Then I’m going to brush the bitter tears off my outline and finish writing the damned thing. Because it’s still a kickass idea for a book and deserves to be written.

Succeeding at NaNoWriMo teaches you a lot about setting goals, about the daily grind of writing, and how to get the words out of your head and down on the page.

But failing at NaNoWriMo, that teaches you a different sort of lesson. It teaches you that falling short isn’t the end of the world. That deadlines sometimes get missed and life goes on. That perseverance is what separates writers from those who would write.

Most importantly, it will teach you that good ideas never fucking die. That a book that was good enough for you to start writing in November is sure as hell good enough for you to finish writing in December. Or January. Or February.

Failing sucks. But failing to get back up and keep chasing the dream sucks even worse.

See you at the finish line.

About Sam

I am the author of the popular Pitchfork County series of horror novels. I also write a newsletter with great reading suggestions and free fiction.