We had samosas for dinner tonight. It was a new brand of frozen chicken somosas that we hadn’t bought before, but the instructions seemed simple enough: 15 minutes at 375 degrees. So I put them in the toaster oven and went back to the research I was doing for a freelance assignment until I heard the timer go off.
They weren’t completely burnt, but they were burnt pretty well, alright. I offered to see what else we had in the freezer, but my wife said it was fine, so I gave her the four least burnt samosas and took the other four for myself. The crusts were crisp instead of flaky, and the chicken stuffing was more scalding than I would have liked, but it was an acceptable dinner, all the same.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I assume that at some point during this National Novel Writing Month, you’ve had a writing session that went less than perfectly—say, for example, that you got your 1,000 or so words for the day, and you advanced the plot somewhat, but you just know that the dialogue is awful, or that your characters are starting to behave, well, out of character… And that’s okay! You can go back and fix that sort of thing in revision. The important thing is you put in a day’s work; you promised yourself you were going to get some writing done that day, and you sat down and wrote. If it wasn’t the best writing you’ve ever done, you can always do better in your next writing session.
#NaNoWriMo is a long month. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have off days. Don’t let them get to you. Don’t shrug them off entirely, mind you—if you know you haven’t done your best, you should push yourself to do better the next time, rather than start convincing yourself there’s never going to be a next time and why did you ever think you could be a writer and maybe you should just quit.
Quick followup: So, after dinner, I started the timer on the 13-hour fasts I’ve been doing lately, and then, a half-hour later, I wandered into the kitchen and saw that there were just two Malomars left, and my wife didn’t want them, so I ate them so I could throw out the box. I realized as soon as I bit into the first one what I’d done, and I chided myself for it—then I just reset the timer and started my overnight fast again. It’s fine. I made a mistake, I caught it, I kept moving forward.
You can probably see where I’m going with that story, because it’s exactly where I went with the first one. Look, you’re already about two-thirds of the way through #NaNoWriMo. I’m willing to bet you’ve had some hard days, and I can guarantee you you’ve got some hard days ahead of you. It’s not just that you might feel like you’ve screwed up—you almost certainly have screwed up at some point. It’s what you do after that that counts.