Thursday, 3 December 2015

NaNoWriMo -- An Almost Unmitigated Failure

Well, perhaps 'failure' is a bit harsh. I did write 4 pages, plus a few haiku. And a couple of blog posts, but I would have written those anyway. These days, not blogging seems as unthinkable as not eating.

In the last few days, as blog posts have popped up in my reader bringing news of NaNoWriMo successes, I've been genuinely happy for the winners, but became more and more depressed for myself. I wasn't going to post anything about my NaNoWriMo experience, my failure, but I haven't seen anyone else writing about it, so I thought it was important. (Though having said that, googling "I failed NaNoWriMo" comes up with quite a few hits and some good advice.)

During the month, I read back through some stories I wrote earlier in the year and thought, "I wish I could write more like that. I'm not able do that anymore, why is that?" It went downhill from there with darker thoughts that I won't elaborate on here. All this led to a downward spiral where I convinced myself that playing computer games was much easier and relaxing than writing, not to mention easier to concentrate on while the TV is on. Before I knew it, it was December and I had not written a single word in 3 weeks. Or drawn a single stroke, or crocheted a single stitch, for that matter.

An article I happened to come across during the month made me think. It was about a ceramics teacher who decided to do a little experiment with his students one semester. At the beginning of the first class, he divided the students into two groups. He told one group that they would be graded purely by the quantity of pots they produced: an A for 20kg or more, a B for 15 to 20kg, etc. He told the other group that they were only required to produce one pot -- the most aesthetically pleasing, perfect pot that they could possibly create.

Can you guess what happened?

The students in the first group churned out as many pots as they possibly could, and most of them achieved top marks. The students in the second group became so bogged down in research and philosophical questions about beauty and perfection, that many of them didn't have even one pot to submit at the end of the semester.

These are not the actual pots, just
random pretty pots from the internet. =)

The other big surprise?
Many of the pots considered to be the most beautiful and innovative designs were created by the first group, those who spent the most time creating rather than those who created the most carefully.

So many books and articles have been written about how important it is to practice your art or craft every day, pointing out that even the great Renaissance artists practiced drawing every day of their lives. I've known that message for a long time, but for some reason it didn't really sink in for me until I read that story about the pots.

I titled this blog post an Almost Unmitigated Failure, because at the end of it all, I'm much more motivated to write now than when NaNoWriMo began. Now ... after my complete failure to write for just 10 minutes a day. My brain is a strange beast. A blog post I read yesterday mentioned Figment, and I signed up. It seems to be a lively writing community which may hopefully provide some inspiration. I feel an urge to write a grand closing statement about exciting new things coming up soon, but, eh, no promises.

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