Well, it’s official. As of Sunday morning, I officially quit National Novel Writing Month aka #NaNoWriMo.
And I’ve got to tell you, it feels fabulous. But I’d love to share with you why quitting was the best choice I could make.
This was my third attempt at #NaNoWriMo. My first shot at it was in 2012. I was in the middle of debut novel launching and I think I wrote approximately 6,000 words. It was bad timing for me, but I made a mental note to try again. And in 2013 I did and I wrote all 50,000 words. *fist pump* A huge achievement, but I didn’t use any of those words–at all. Even so, I learned a lot about myself and my process and I did a lot of exploratory writing so I felt the experience was deeply beneficial.
Now fast forward to 2014 and this year’s #NaNoWriMo attempt. I was lined up for success. I had a loosely thought out idea with characters that I’d been mulling over for about a year. I’d been increasing my daily writing and consistency for months now and felt I could handle this because I’d been “training” for it. And I’m super competitive with myself and if I did it once, why couldn’t I do it again, right? And I like NaNo–I really do. I’m a huge fan of the collective energy.
I should also tell you, I started out strong. My first two days out, I wrote a lot of words and built myself a little buffer so that I’d be able to miss a day or two in an emergency or my daily word count wouldn’t be quite so high. I was trucking along great until last week. And then something pivotal happened. My story started to rewrite itself. The more I explored the characters, the more I realized that G and C needed to combine and become one character. And I could absolutely not write this story from so many 1st person perspectives, but maybe I should write it from third. So I simply moved forward with these drastic changes knowing I could go back and fix the beginning later. The whole idea was to just move forward with the free flow of ideas. But then 3rd wasn’t intimate enough and the MC was beginning to reveal herself (especially now that she was combined with another character) so I’d write it that way and test out this idea I have for a way to get some intimate information from the other characters. But at this point I am so confused. What I really, really need to do is print it all out and while I reread it, compile all my current information into clear character sketches that would allow me to do a little plotting before starting from the top. But that’s not how NaNo works!!!
So, even though I went from quickly popping off my word count most days, I was now struggling to decide how to move forward. But I felt sure I could still write my way to NaNo success while getting some useful information that I’d be able to mine later. So I kept writing. I left my usual process of writing in consecutive chapters and began to write scenes. And again I unearthed some fabulous information that is a gold mine for this book. I’m so excited I wrote it. And then the well went dry. I had 1,000 words to write by yesterday to hit the halfway mark. I could knock that off easy peasy. But I didn’t. On Friday I only wrote 382 words. Those words took way too long to write. I should have had over 1,000 in that amount of time.
But I gave myself a 1/2 of a star just for motivation. And even though I was still on track, I wrote nothing on the 15th. I told myself it was still okay–Sunday I could get caught up and this week I could power through. But then I realized I couldn’t–because the truth was I knew I can’t go forward until I go back. And this contest isn’t built for that. Deep in my heart, I knew I had to put a fork in it and call it done, but let’s be honest–I was still trying to find a way to make it happen. I told my husband my dilemma and he looked at me and said it should be about writing words for the sake of numbers. And I smiled and mental quit on the spot. And I ain’t going to lie, it felt great because I was no longer writing what I wanted to write. I wasn’t being true to where the story was taking me and that’s not productive.
What I learned is that the tool I’m using to write should never have more power than the actual writing. And that is why for 2014, #NaNoWriMo became #NaNoWriMoANoNo LOL!
Now, don’t expect me to become a slacker. I’ve still got lots of work I want to do and I believe I even have a couple more Drafting Series posts left in me–at least one for sure. It’s percolating already. And if you’re still doing NaNo–you must keep me updated on your progress. I am rooting for you!!!! But I’m here to tell you that I’m confident that I made the right/write decision for me. More to come on that later.
Are you holding the NaNo course? How’s it going? Did your inner compass have alternate plans for you, too? If so, what are they?