Fifty thousand words was the goal.

Going into the third week of November, I was on a creative roll — so much so that I wrote about it. I said, and I quote:

I’m not sure how much longer I can keep going on coffee and adrenaline fumes, or how many more new projects I can start, but I’m on a streak and I’m going to ride it as long as I can.

Well, it didn’t take long for me to find out how long I could keep going — From the time I hit “publish” on that blog post, I had exactly two and a half hours before a virus knocked me flat on my hiney.

I had a migraine-esque headache, a fever, and the worst exhaustion I’ve ever felt. I was unable to get myself off the couch for most of two days.

And just like that, the creative streak I was so excited about was but a distant memory. The house was suddenly in shambles, the kids caught the virus, and I went from feeling invincible to wondering how I was going to get my most basic daily responsibilities done.

I had set a goal to write 60,000 words by the end of the November, but by the time I made it to the end of that week I knew that was out the window. I regrouped, and set my sights on 50,000. That’s the official NaNoWriMo goal anyway, and I really wanted that winner banner — and not just for the bragging rights.

Fifty thousand words is a big milestone, one I didn’t know I could reach last year when I started. Sure, I said I could. But deep down, I didn’t know. I really wanted to achieve that goal. I just knew if I could only get to 50,000 words, I could finish.

Then came Thanksgiving. Two days of cooking. A five-day break for the kids. And that’s about the time I completely gave up. I was sitting at somewhere around 46,000 words and my motivation was all but gone. Fifty thousand words? It might as well have been a million.

I wrote a couple hundred words here, and a hundred fifty words there, but I held out little hope. I do my best writing when everyone in the house is asleep, and they were staying up late and I was tired.

Dylan has shared in my excitement and kept up with my progress since I started this thing last year, and when I signed on for NaNoWriMo, he kept closer tabs than ever. Realizing that Sunday was November 30, my deadline to get to 50,000 and “win” NaNoWriMo, he asked how many more words I needed to reach the goal.

“Twenty-three hundred,” I said, “I’m not going to make it.”

He looked as let down as I felt, and somehow the fact that it mattered to him made me feel better.

“That’s a lot,” he said, “Can you write that much in one day?” It was rhetorical. Then, with a quiet confidence, he answered his own question. “I think you can,” he said.

I loved that he had faith in me, but I also know my limits. “I can’t write during the day, and the deadline is midnight. I won’t have time tonight,” I said.

“You have time now. Go in there and shut the door and get to work,” he said, “You have to get to 50,000. IT’S NOVEMBER 30!”

I’m not used to getting pep talks from my kids. Somehow, him insisting that I could do it made it so. And I went, and I wrote to 49,500 words. I saved the last 500 for after everyone went to bed.

When I told Dylan goodnight, he said, “Are you going to make it?”

“I’m going to make it,” I said.

And I did. I still can’t believe it. I wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for Dylan, though.

It’s easy to give up when you feel like the odds are stacked against you. I’m very lucky to have a kid who knows just what I need to hear to keep going.


November has taught me a thing or two about encouragement, and that’s what I’m going to be talking about in my next couple of posts. Tomorrow, I’m sharing a story about a different type of “encouragement” I received from another kid in my household. If you know my family you can guess where that one’s going.

Comments (2)

  1. Andy Bland

    So did you manage to finish your book?
    Andy Bland recently posted..Auto ResponderMy Profile

    1. jenny leigh (Post author)

      Still working, slowly but surely!


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