NaNoWriMo – Why You Win Even When You Lose

Leigh Duvan~ By Leigh Duvan

There are only a few days left to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2017.

You may still be on the fence about NaNo or thinking there’s no way you can win, so why bother even doing it. Today I’m going to tell you in Nike form to JUST DO IT! Sign up! Unless you’re going to be hiding under a rock for the month of November, there’s no reason not to be a participant. I’ll even make it easy for you. Here’s the sign up link:

Now, before you think I’m crazy, hear me out. I’ve participated in NaNo four times over the course of the last four years. And in that time I’ve only officially won ONE TIME – yep, once. That very first year. It wasn’t easy and life was crazier than crazy – my strategy then was to panster my way through my book and lock myself in a room at home or coffee shop for hours at a time on weekends to make up for weekdays I didn’t write. But dagnabit, I’m competitive and HAD to win. I HAD to hit 50,000 new words. Even if they were crappy. And many were. I used every trick in the book – first and last names of characters, fully writing contractions out. Writing a useless scene I knew I would cut. You name it, I did it. I WON and had something in MS format to work with at the end of the month. Did I mention it was my first year taking writing as a profession seriously…so yah, I HAD to win!

With the goal of NaNo being to create habits and get it done because consistency leads to achievement. I had to have a plan – even for a Panster. Here’s how I did it:

I added padding in for the days I knew I wouldn’t be able to write 1,667 words, like the days work would be insane and for those days around Thanksgiving where I knew family and friends would take up my time. What that meant was that on another day I would need more time to get three, four, or five thousand words in (remember that locked room?).

I made sure my family was supportive and knew that mommy needed some alone time, and hubby was on deck to handle the basics for an hour or two or five when needed.

But this post ISN’t about winning NaNo. This post is about being a winner whether you officially win NaNo or not. You see, the second year I participated, I only wrote25,000 words over 30 days. By NaNoWriMo standards, I LOST.  I was a BIG LOSER. I had two business trips that month for 4-5 days each and Thanksgiving. I barely had time to breathe much less write and I felt terrible.

Here’s when reality hit me – for someone who didn’t have time to write consistently 25,000 NEW words was an incredible amount in a month. That’s a good ⅓ of a book. Most people don’t write a ⅓ of a book in a quarter or year much less a month. That’s a WIN.

Now if you are used to writing one, two, three or four thousand words a day and you’re consistent you go get that book out there and I can’t wait to read it. Use NaNo the way you need to for you which is different and a separate post.

If you get a few hundred words a day or maybe you get a couple thousand words over the course of a week or two or a month then Nano is the jumpstart that you need to get consistency under your belt. That’s why you want to be a participant.

Back to my story of year two and those 25,000 words that I wrote.  I was technically a “BIG LOSER” yet I had a strong mindset so I turned things around on myself.  I was really a winner in my book because I had 25,000 new words to be able to edit and adjust and do something with. More than I started with on November 1st. That’s SOMETHING to celebrate and as writer’s we need to celebrate the wins. Sure I didn’t get the sponsor prizes, but new words on the page to edit meant so much more to me.

Year three was a complete bust. I wrote something like 3,000 words in the month. I was working a day job for 70 hours a week and had all the kid and family duties as hubby was traveling too. My house was cray cray. There was no way any writing was going to be done much less 1,667 a day. This had nothing to do with mindset. This was reality. I didn’t have to to think much less write.

Basically I signed up and didn’t fully participate. I don’t count that as a win or lose.  But I realized that it was a time that I probably should not have even put the stress of NaNo on my plate. Year Four I didn’t do Nano. I didn’t sign up. I didn’t plan to do it. I just let it go and pass me by because I was in the same boat as year three.

Now in my fifth year as a committed writer I am signed up for NaNo and what I realized is that when I get started on November 1st – no matter what I write, as long as I write, I am starting and finishing a winner. And I will admit I’m only working about 50 hours a week and there are no business trips coming up. So, there IS less external pressure. There is definitely a time to be a realist versus an optimist 😉

I’ve decided, this time around, I’m a winner whether I get 10 words a day, 100 words a day or the magical 1,667 a day. If I win by their standards of 50,000 words – I get some prizes, Yay Me.  And yes, that’s what I’m going for this time. The “Official Win”. However, if I get 20,000 new words for the month I STILL win and so do my readers.  That’s the beauty of mindset. Mindset helps you be the winner. Your mindset is where it’s at. How you think about the experience will guide your experience.

I’m going into it and I want you to go into it thinking about the fact that you are a winner as long as you get words toward your story done and you begin to create some pattern of consistency.

Maybe in those 30 days you can only write four days a week. But if those four days a week yield words and you’re consistent you’re a winner. Or maybe you can only write on the weekends but you crank out five to six thousand words on the weekend. You’re a winner.

Maybe you write every other day and that becomes your pattern. If you come out at the end with more words than you started with YOU ARE A WINNER.  I want you to remember that. Whether you “officially” win or lose NaNo if you get new words on paper you win and your readers will too.

Leigh Duvan is a digital marketing strategist by day & a contemporary romance writer by night. She writes sweet and sassy stories and loves a loveable hero. She’s a specialist in marketing & brand building designed to drawn in loyal and sticky fans. Complete with two decades of sales/marketing experience, she teaches new and experienced authors how to build and keep an engaged audience through brand awareness and community building, starting even before their first book release. An avid napper, she spends time running her kids here to there and traveling with her husband as often as possible. You can visit her at


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