NaNoWriMOh Yeah, I Was Supposed to Be Doing This

Let me start with what y’all really care about: my word count. Even having made things easy on myself, I only wrote a paltry 15102 words. (Plus however many words this post ends up being.) I’ll give you a moment to heap shame upon me.


This never gets old.

All done? Okay, cool. Let’s break down why this was such a failure and why I don’t actually feel bad about it.

Like I said in my initial NaNoWriMo post, you gotta know your points of failure when taking on a big project. I planned for accepting that I was gonna write some shitty drafts and that I’d have to post them to hit my word count. I got off to a decent start doing just that.

Then the election happened. I can plan for things I know I can’t control, but I can’t plan for things that I don’t know that I don’t know. Unknown unknowns, if you will. (Ugh, referencing Trump and Rumsfeld in the same post makes me sick.)

The election was a double edge sword, content-wise. It gave me the idea for the Darkest Timeline series, which I’ll be continuing. Letters to Myself will become a regular feature, too. But the thing I couldn’t plan for was how much it would sap my motivation. For every day that I was fired up to write about how fucked up things have gotten, I probably spent five not wanting to do anything at all, let alone write.

So, let’s call those 15102 words (and counting!) a victory in the name of writing in the face of unforeseeable despair. I will, at least.

I end this month with a few more wins for Elizabeth Barcelos, Professional Writer. My editorial internship was set to end along with the year, leaving me with uncertain job prospects. Last week, they decided to keep me on going into the new year. I accepted another regular freelancing gig on the same day. I have pitches that I didn’t have at the beginning of the month, work that I can send out so that I can keep writing about what I know, get paid for it, and see my name in even more publications.

I may not have won NaNoWriMo, but I’ll take my wins wherever I can find them.


NaNoWriMoh My God, What Am I Getting Myself Into?

I’m a project-oriented person. No, that’s not just resume-speak. I genuinely enjoy planning things and making them happen. The bigger the vision, the more I get my rocks off when I eventually pull it off. I may hate it sometimes, it may add to my white hair count, but it’s what I do.


Any reason is a good reason to use this gif.

Or at least, it’s what I used to do. Normally, I’d be planning tournaments and wrangling wayward quidditch teams this time of year. Instead, I’ve set that aside to focus on an even unrulier project: self-improvement. Mothering other people is easy; disciplining myself is harder.

Enter NaNoWriMo. Not only does it fulfill my need to tackle an ambitious project, but it also provides the structure I’ve craved since I graduated from college. It’s an assignment, there are parameters to be met, so go get em, tiger!

The important thing when starting a big project is to know where your potential points of failure are. In event planning, your enemy is other people failing to meet expectations. You make backup plans for things like teams dropping. In this case, my only enemy is myself.

Specifically, my tendency to let perfection be the enemy of good. Or good enough, at least. I have piles of half-finished notebooks and a bunch of unfinished drafts sitting in WordPress and my Google Drive because I didn’t feel like they were good enough.

For NaNoWriMo, perfect doesn’t matter. Meeting the word count of 50,000 words does.

I’m also going to be kind to myself and make a few tweaks. My goal isn’t to write a novel; it’s to hit that word count in spite of my crippling perfectionism. It’s to turn those abandoned drafts and half thought out ideas into something I can send out into the world.

This is what I’ll be counting towards my 50,000 words instead of a novel:

  • A collection of short stories, tentatively tied together by a Portuguese-American theme. I think it’s an underserved genre and I know I can contribute to it.
  • Posts to this blog. It’s time to clear out my draft pile.
  • Pitches and articles that aren’t for work. It’s time to boost my list of publications so I have a solid portfolio by the time my internship is over.

In the spirit of being kind to myself, I’m counting today’s blog post because I already know a full day of work + Portuguese school tomorrow is going to put a dent in my writing time. 50k is an ambitious goal, but I want to set myself up to succeed.

I also don’t want to do this alone. Are you taking the plunge for the first time like I am? Are you a NaNoWriMo veteran coming back for another year? Add barcelosknows as your writing buddy. Let’s do this together.