The real meaning of NaNoWriMo

Here’s the bad news, I didn’t cross the goal line for NaNoWriMo this year.

In part, it was because we lost electricity for three days, and I had to help organize a Thanksgiving dinner without heat, and I got sick (co-incidence? I think not.) But also a big part of it was that (like usual) I waited until the last minute.

It turns out that when a big snow storm hits your area and knocks down wires, it’s not such a great strategy to leave everything until the end.

But here is the good news, even though I didn’t get to write the words down, I still thought about my writing. A lot. And to some degree that counts.

I thought about the story I’m collaborating on with a friend. I now know what I need to do to finish the scene I had been working on.

I pitched a new holiday story idea (something that I’ve always wanted to write) to my kids and they helped flesh it out. I’m looking forward to writing it and the kids are already asking to read it.

I visited my parents last week and they sent me home with a family heirloom. “You have to promise to tell its story,” my mother said as she carefully wrapped the item in a soft blanket preparing it for the car ride back to New Hampshire. I thought about the item for days and I think I’ve come up with a proper way to tell its story. I tentatively explained my idea to the kids. This idea has also piqued their interest – the first true test of whether a story idea will fly or not.

Thanks to the month of November being dedicated to writers, I was even able to finally get organized enough so that I could start work on a cookbook project I had promised my son I would write for him.

All of this wouldn’t have happened, had I not been focusing on my writing. So even though I didn’t complete the NaNoWriMo challenge this year, by keeping my writing in the foreground instead of delegating it to somewhere in the background, I was still able to move forward with my projects.

And in the end, isn’t that what the NaNoWriMo challenge is really all about?


This is not to take anything away from those who completed the NaNoWriMo challenge – to you writers who crossed that finish line, I tip my hat and say “Well done, well done indeed.”





Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.


19 thoughts on “The real meaning of NaNoWriMo

  1. I completely agree with you. NanoWriMo is much more than the finish line. I took part for the first time this year, mostly to learn something about the writing process. I didn’t hit the 50,000 work mark but I wrote more (and crucially, committed to the process) than ever before.

  2. While working on a memoir already in progress, I also participated in the ‘spirit of Nanowrimo.’ Though I did not accumulate 50k new words, I had a breakthrough idea of the direction of the book, including that I would begin blogging it. So I agree; for some of us the month of November was simply about focusing on our writing! Congrats on your progress-especially during a time of a holiday and a storm!

  3. Yep, I’m joining the unfinished club! I managed 34,000 words then got sidetracked. But with just 16,000 words to go for a complete first draft it’s the most focused I’ve ever been. Congrats to all those who met the deadline!!

  4. I also didn’t “win” at NaNoWriMo this year. The journey is the important thing, and I usually use NaNoWriMo as a reminder to not give up and to keep moving forward. Congrats for continuing your writing.

  5. Wendy. NaNoWriMo or not, you are a writer. You can point to any number of finished products done well. And you know you will finish many more. And your well of ideas never seems to run out. We all envy you. Silent

  6. I think Nano served you well. You managed to think through what you wanted to do and motivate yourself to do it. Lots of NaNoWriMo writers will be editing and possibly discarding a lot of what they wrote and may even end up where you left off… so don’t be too hard on yourself. Pat on the back for even trying! From someone who chickened out from participating at all due to fear of not finishing on time! 😉
    Next year will be the one – I tell ya 🙂

  7. I took part too. And I crossed the goal line. But while I was writing I said to myself: It does not matter, if you cross the goal line or not. Take the chance, take part and write. That’s it.
    Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s life. Don’t worry. Best regards.

  8. I love that idea about writing the story of the heirloom object, I may have to borrow that 🙂

    Even though I made my 50k with nano this year, I felt it was less of a success than last year, when I wrote 87k and a whole novel up to the end. I did force an ending this year, but the story was basically unsalvageable. But I should look on the positives, my writing rate has increased over the five years I have been doing nano. In my first year I really struggled to keep up to the minimum. This year I was averaging 2k or more except than I had a huge break in the middle with a computer crisis. So even though the story bombed, I still learned from the process. And I really should edit last year’s nano!

  9. I wrote all about this last year, when I didn’t win, but when NaNo sparked a love for writing that I hadn’t experienced in a few years. I love that even just the idea of NaNo can be enough to give writers inspiration or a spark they need to get back to something or start something. For me, that love leaked into a whole year of more writing and then winning NaNo this year. 🙂 Kudos for getting more words than you had before! That’s all that matters about NaNo, I think!

  10. Pingback: Lesson 1168 – Quotable Chicks | Lessons Learned from the Flock

  11. I came across NaNoWriMo for the first time last year. But it was already a week in to November, and I didn’t feel prepared. Then I forgot all about it, until this November, and felt similarly unprepared. Last week I bought my 2015 diary, and this morning I’ve gone to the October pages and written in a one-month, 3-weeks, 2-weeks, 1-week countdown for next year. This time I’ll be ready!!

  12. Very cool Wendy! This was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo and I couldn’t agree with you more on how awesome it is to have a month dedicated to writers and their creativity. I made it this year, but BARELY! If I had experienced a power outage or illness… not so much:)
    Great blog post!

  13. To write is from within. Every satisfied word creates contentment. Whether thought or written, the need is fulfilled. Well done for continuing even with the added stress 🙂

  14. For me, NaNo helped me to realise I could, I have the staying power, and the commitment to do what I want to.
    I reached the 50000 goal but am only half way, I now know I can do this; and will finish it. But I wont do it again, for me the excersise was to see if I could, and if I still loved it after the deadline pressure. Writers write, as the living breathe, and dying men stop; I write. We as human beings only fail if we don’t try, sometimes life intrudes and slows or stops you but as you know. Writers still write.

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