Pulling Out of the Race

So, I withdrew from NaNoWriMo and the forums today. It was a personal decision based almost entirely on the reaction I had to their new stats page for author word count tracking. The stats page marks you as “unsuccessful” from 12:01am on Nov 1 until you get 1667 words or more on your updater. It assumes that you have already failed before the day even starts. The same thing happens the next day, even if you got 10,000 words on day 1. Day 2 is “unsuccessful” until you put in 1667 positive words on the updater.

Now, I can see how a lot of people wouldn’t so much care about that. And I can see how a lot of people find that sort of wording discouraging to say the least. For me, the more I thought about it, the madder I got. I ended up having actual vivid flashbacks of all those times as a kid growing up in a house with dirt floors, with an emotionally abusive mom and brother. The times when I was told over and over and over again, at the start of everything I did, that I was a failure, that I would never succeed, that I was “unsuccessful.” The times when my own internal voice started to mimic that abuse and I told myself, I was unworthy, stupid, slow, and incapable of success.

I haven’t had flashbacks like that in almost 15 years, but NaNoWriMo, a supposedly fun, care-free event meant to let people release the inner demons that keep them from writing managed to bring one on. I spent all my morning writing time literally in tears, trying to get myself back together.

I have worked very, very hard to believe that I am smart, capable, and worthy of encouragement, love, and support. I surround myself with people who love and respect me, who are encouraging even when I dream big. Who celebrate my successes without tallying up my failures and holding them against me. Most of all, those people believe in me. They tell me that I can accomplish my goals, that I can win, and that I am valuable and worthy and smart and good even when I don’t hit my targets.

I could try to prove the NaNo stats page wrong – I’ve been proving my mother wrong my whole life. But I won’t. I refuse to play that game for a stupid, supposedly fun, event. I deserve to be told I can succeed, not that I’ve already failed before I even have a chance to try.

And so do you.

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4 Responses to Pulling Out of the Race

  1. Nikki says:

    I’m sorry you felt discouraged. I too noticed the rather bizarre assumption that, typing away as I was, I was still unsuccessful because I hadn’t yet hit the day’s target. But having now reached it, I am now apparently two days ahead of schedule. This when I’ve only gone 100 or so words over the target for day 2. So my conclusions are these: whoever has written the stats programme hasn’t got it right (they are possibly unsuccessful!); the graph is all you need; if you don’t scroll down beyond the graph, assuming it’s managed to load in the first place, you won’t see the demon word. If you can, get back to your writing and in a spare moment, drop a little note to the site organisers. I’m sure they’ll appreciate your feedback!

  2. arizela says:

    There’s a thread on the feedback forum by a number of people who are having similar issues with the wording and I posted to it, twice. Cybele asked if it would help to change the language to “Off Target” but frankly, it wouldn’t. The whole negativity thing is just not what i want to associate with my writing. I tried not scrolling down, but I still know it’s there, and it’s like trying to eat your soup and just not look at the big roach floating on top. It’s still poisoning the well.

    I write every day, nano or no nano, so I’ll just go back to that and skip joining in the “fun”.

  3. Cat says:

    I agree with you, Ari. Nano is supposed to be fun; a challenge, yes but one for fun. You can make your own stress, without having stresses made for you.

    Being Maths orientated I created my own graph and tallies ages ago, but never did I use the word unsuccessful. If there had to be words I’d choose; ‘On target’ for close to the daily target, ‘Keep going’ for those times the target wasn’t reached, and ‘Take a rest day’ when the word count got far ahead of the striaght line graph.

    But who writes to a straight line? When I played the Nano game I knew before hand there were days I would not achieve the 1667 words and other days I knew I could spend the time writing more than 1667. Over the days my words averaged out, and I made the 50K (and more).

    I would set up a different system, but then I’m mathematically based, rather than word based.

  4. arizela says:

    I believe they changed the “unsuccessful days” header to something like “days behind target” or something like that. It’s still tallying failures (and in this case, considering things failures that may not be – like planned days off and such). If it had been days behind target to start with, chances are good I wouldn’t have been bothered by it, but now it’s a case of me having such negative associations with the whole thing that it would more than likely sap my writing rather than encouraging me to march onward. I don’t need reason to *not* write. heh.

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