On Why I’m Not Doing NaNo This Year

Long time no post!  Like, really long time.  Oops?  As it turns out, I find talking about my writing not very interesting, so this blog died a little bit.  But fear not (unless you’re afraid of zombies), for it is back, and definitely doesn’t just want brains.  Mostly.

But I’m back to talk about why I won’t be participating in NaNo this year, even though I will be cheering people on from the sidelines.

First, let me say that all my reasons and reasoning is personal; none of it is meant to apply to anyone else.  When I talk about what does or doesn’t work for me, I mean it just for me; other things could work well for you that just don’t fall flat for me, and that’s great!  Writing advice and opinions are laughably far from universal.

Now, down to business (of defeating the Huns (who never even invaded China, but I (parenthetically) digress)).

I have done NaNo for 10 years.  The last 8 of those were wins, seven of them as an ML, all of them with significantly over 50k words.  5 times (I think) I wrote 50k in a single day, the first time to win a bet (she didn’t know that’s what I was going to do – oops?).  I’ve come up with novel ideas that have stuck with me, that stick with me even now, and others that I mostly forget about, unless I need a good thing to laugh at.

I’ve also made many friends, several of which I’m even friends with not around the month of November!  The jump from NaNo friends to “real” friends ain’t small, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have it happen, several times over.

I have, in short, done pretty well with this “NaNo” thing.

But I’ve also felt my focus changing when I write not during NaNo, which I am trying to get better at.  Too often, I find myself looking down at that wordcount.  That’s how I measure my progress, how far I am to that goal of “finished novel”.  And then – especially during the month of November – my focus switches entirely to numbers.

Not that there aren’t words!  There are, but the only thing that matters about them is how many of them there are.

This isn’t a question of quality, really.  I had already mostly stopped sprinting these past few years, and that’s when the quality with which I write slips.  When I sit down and focus, if it’s 200 words in an hour or 2000 (or more), it’s about the same quality.  The difference is topic.

As in, what story I’m writing.

Some stories, I can breeze through.  They’re silly and fun and don’t mean anything.  And I enjoy writing those!  I can churn out 10,o00 words in a day on them and still come back the next day.  Which is really, really good when my focus becomes numbers.

But see, I don’t want to write that kind of story, at least right now.  Earlier this year, I slipped back into writing some.  It was a whirlwind two month affair of 30k words or so that told me that I was starting the story at the wrong time, and exactly when to start it.  I’ve been doing some prep (a lot of which is letting the story sit, turning it over in my mind, this way and that), getting ready to start Yet Another Draft of it soon (possibly this week).

This story, though, is not one I can rush (I’ve tried).  I can’t tell it at pace, or at least not at the kind of pace I would want to.  Some days, sure, I can knock out 2k on it (above NaNo par), but others the words don’t come so quickly.  And I have learned, though several fucked up first drafts, that pushing through is only going to ruin it, which I’m kind of tired of doing?  I’ve not started calling it Albatross for no reason.

Patience.  Plodding patience, my favorite.

There’s also the fact that my life is filling up with…life?  Writing is important (I don’t feel whole without stories), but I have other interests I’m trying to focus on, too.  Programming (I have a fun personal project I’ll share in a future entry), woodworking (ditto), hiking/camping and just so much else.  NaNo kind of takes over, and this year, I’m not so willing to share space.

I’ll have a few goals this next month I’ll be working towards.  Daily writing is one of them, and I hope to make decent progress on my book…and on other things.  Sort of a combo goal, if you will, but decidedly different than the all-consuming way I’ve done NaNo in the past (those of you who suggest a relaxed approach to NaNo, or rebelling, don’t know me – I don’t middle ground well, and know myself well enough to know how it would end up).

Hell, the closest to real participation likely from me is translating lines of code into a NaNo like challenge, as that I can move on, but even then, I don’t want it to be my whole focus, ya dig?

I will, however, still be cheering everyone else on!  And prodding those who wish back to writing, while trying not to distract those who want to get shit done.

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