This November was, I believe, my fifth November participating in NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, is a challenge of sorts to write a whole first draft of a novel in a month. In my previous four years of accepting this challenge, I have only won once. In order to win, you must have reached your word goal. If you use the original NaNo site, your goal is 50,000 words, no matter what! If you use the Young Writers Program version, you get to set your own goal.

I started the month with a lofty goal of 21,000 words, hoping to double the word count of the novel I have been working on for about five years. Somewhere about halfway through the month, I ashamedly lowered my word count to 15,000, as I missed too many days to be able to finish on time without spending about four hours writing per day. Then, close to the end of the month, I lowered it for the final time to 10,000 words and was able to complete that by the end of the month.

For me, it became yet another lesson in setting reasonable expectations and how, depending on how hectic life has been, your goals may have to shift to better fit your life as it is, not as it was. Was it unreasonable of me to expect myself to write 700 words per day when I set that goal in October? No, because at the time I was feeling really good and was able to keep a decent schedule going. It became unreasonable when I expected myself to stick to that no matter what. Looking back, I am able to understand that what I am able to do changes, and therefore I should try to be more flexible with my plans. To any aspiring authors out there, keep trying and don’t be ashamed to adjust your goals.

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