It’s not failure; it’s an opportunity to learn

writer's blockNovember is half over. I should be halfway through my novel. Many of you might have assumed this was coming, but I’m nowhere near halfway through a novel. In fact, I haven’t made it past 5,000 words.

When I started the National Novel Writing Month project, I said it was an experiment. Unfortunately, it hasn’t bee a successful one.

I don’t want to give excuses, but I can give an explanation. I was very ill for the first week of November, which put me way behind. Then, well, I got lazy. Every night I came home from work, finished my to-do list for this blog (which remained my top writing priority), and then I just couldn’t bring myself to write 1,500 more words after sitting in front of a computer writing all day for work.

I was pretty down about it at first. As much as I wanted to “win” NaNoWriMo, I just didn’t have the energy. I’m still coughing a little, and I’m still recovering from the virus I picked up Halloween weekend. A lot of my interests and responsibilities have been on the back burner for the past couple weeks as I continued to recover. I haven’t been to the gym or taken any real photographs for this entire month. It’s been all I could do to keep up with this blog and my job.

I said I wouldn’t give excuses, but I won’t let myself feel bad about it either. Instead, I choose to see it as a learning opportunity. I did learn some things, even if I didn’t write the novel I wanted to write.

Just because you want to do it doesn’t mean you have the time.

A long time ago I had to learn to say no when I didn’t want to do something or take on more responsibility. But I never considered the fact that I could be my own worst enemy. I have to learn to recognize my own limitations and acknowledge that a 50 hour work week, daily blog, photography hobby, exercise, husband and household are already a lot of work. This year just wasn’t the right time to add on another responsibility, no matter how much I wanted it. I was setting myself up for failure.

Not right now doesn’t mean never.

I love to set goals for myself and accomplish them. But I have a now or never mentality that holds me back. Just because I have too much going on right now doesn’t mean I’ll never write my 50,000 word novel. Just because it can’t happen this November doesn’t mean it won’t happen next November (or even next July). There is no time limit. There are no rules. If I want to accomplish something, I will do it. I just need to learn that it doesn’t always have to be right this second.

Acknowledge your own accomplishments.

The whole point of participating in NaNoWriMo was to force myself to write creatively every day. But just because I pushed the project aside for now doesn’t mean I failed. The volume of writing I do for this blog is nothing to sniff at. So many blogs are started and abandoned (I’ve done it myself too many times to count). I should be proud of myself for maintaining a blog for over a year, and publishing about 3,000 words a week on top of who knows how many words I write for work every week.

The point is, if there’s a goal you’ve missed or an accomplishment you gave up, it doesn’t mean it’s over. Learn to accept your limitations, find the right time to pursue your goals, and never give up. But don’t waste time and energy being mad at yourself for putting things on hold.

Photo by samflinn

4 thoughts on “It’s not failure; it’s an opportunity to learn

  1. Jill

    I’m sorry your experiment hasn’t gone as well as you’d have hoped. I definitely concur with your first “lesson learned.” It is hard for me to say no, especially when it is something I want to do. For instance I want to volunteer to coach Upward cheerleading in the new year. I haven’t made a decision yet but I truly don’t know if I have enough time to do it and I don’t want to do it poorly. I think that it is better to not do something at all than it is to only make half an effort. I feel like it is best to wait until you can devote more energy to it. Hope you’re feeling better.
    .-= Jill´s last blog ..Seven Quick Takes (v.4) =-.

  2. Bobbi

    You are absolutely right about not letting it get you down. At least you are going forward and realizing what you can and can’t take on. You do have time to do things and sometimes priorities change every single day.

  3. imelda

    I didn’t realize you were doing NaNo, too! OK, maybe I did and just forgot, now that I think about it. Anyway, the most important thing you said in this post was “Not now doesn’t mean never.” I have tried NaNo in the past and never gotten past a couple of pages. This year has been my most serious attempt by far, and I’ve had the time (which includes work time, coughcough), health, and correct mindset to do it. Obviously, I haven’t even won yet. But I don’t think I “failed” in past years; I just wasn’t in the right place to win. It actually never bothered me that much, because I just didn’t feel it.

    This year, I feel it. And I’ve invested so much already that I’ll be kind of heartboken if I don’t win. But that’s just because the stars have aligned in my favor so far, and I’ve had the opportunity to seriously try. It sounds like you just weren’t in the right place this time around. Like you said, there’s always next year.

    Also, I’m jealous of what you’ve accomplished with your blog. I start and abandon blogs left and right, so I know that it takes a lot.
    .-= imelda´s last blog ..Books do, in fact, need plots =-.

  4. brittany

    Don’t sweat it! Sickness can really get you down. I mean who wants to write on their deathbed? I actually set myself a goal to read 50 books this year, and I realized the other day there’s no way I am going to make it (I’m at 34). I was so on track to do it this summer, but then I moved to China, which took a month or two out of me with all the craziness of moving acx the world. Goals are great, but sometimes life happens!
    Don’t worry though, as you said, lesson learned. You can always write your novel any time you want, whatever the month may be, you don’t need a special designated month to do it! xo
    .-= brittany´s last blog ..Naptime =-.

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