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NaNoWriMo: Only about 11% of writers who commit actually finish

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a real challenge that is not for the faint of heart. Every November millions of writers from across the globe sign up and announce to their social world that they intend to stagger through the 50,000 word gauntlet. Why do so many writers fail to follow through, and what are some of the success stories of those who do?

  • This is a very interesting topic to me, since I am currently participating. I am already behind schedule :( . For me the issues are time, loss of interest in my characters/plot, "writer's block, and the feeling that what I'm writing is pure garbage. – Tatijana 5 years ago
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  • I understand completely. I`m doing my first one. I was dead tired that last two nights, but I forced my way through the 1667 words needed to stay on track. I hope you hang in there. Just write anything. Editing while you write will kill your creativity and your drive. That`s what make NaNo so great. Good luck. – SWBiddulph 5 years ago
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  • One of the things about NaNoWriMo is that it is often forgotten that it is more about quantity than quality for the one month. One of the biggest issues, something that I've done, is think that every sentence has to be perfect before moving forward. This, along with many other factors, could be what makes so few complete the task. – Austin Bender 5 years ago
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  • I like this topic; again, I'm interested since I'm also participating this year. Time commitment is probably a big one, as well as self-doubt. I think I heard a quotation from a well-known author once that summed it up nicely; he said that he either thought that he was the best writer in the world or the most talentless (it might have been John Green). Anyway, I think that sums up the plight of the creative writer very nicely; you're constantly plagued by doubts that you're not good enough (although, arguably, that's the side of you that pushes you to improve). – laurakej 5 years ago
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  • It's also important to consider the question of why so many people outside of NaNoWriMo fail to finish a novel. Taking too long to get through the first draft can burn a lot of people out. Given that the publishing climate is always in flux, time to write a novel can affect one's ability to pitch it successfully. If nothing else, NNWM helps to build the discipline required to actually get from the first to the last page of a draft. – iatakpa 5 years ago
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  • Actually, iatakpa, your response is the one I was looking for. That's the real nugget of NNWM--finishing something for once. Take a 50,000 word rough draft and turning it into something worthwhile is a whole lot easier then writing the 50,000 words. Good point. :) – SWBiddulph 5 years ago
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  • *Taking a...* – SWBiddulph 5 years ago
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  • I think many writers fall through because of writer's block. In hindsight, writing 50k words seems like something you could easily do in 30 days if you stay on top of it, but once you get writing, you sometimes hit that wall. It becomes discouraging. I did NNWM once and I finished it, but it was challenging. It did teach me, however, that writer's block is an illusion, that the objective is to first get words on the paper (however ridiculous they might sound), and then later fix what you wrote. – Christina Legler 5 years ago
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  • Well, aim high and see what happens. I have not done NNWM because the time commitment, but I can see the advantage of cracking down and just writing as much as possible, whether you finish or not. – Candice Evenson 5 years ago
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  • As someone who participates and leads a region, I'd be intrigued to hear the reasoning and see if there's a common trend. I do think discouragement and losing passion around the halfway mark are issues NaNoWriMo participants face. Once you get yourself muddy with an idea, it can get harder to see the path to a 50K first draft. Priorities shift and excitement wanes. You start thinking of plot holes and want to reread, edit, and fret, which takes up much time and energy. – emilydeibler 5 years ago
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