NaNoWriMo 2014?

NaNoWriMo 2014 Participant

NaNoWriMo 2014 Participant

I haven’t talked about NaNoWriMo at all, this year. Each year, since 2008, I’ve participated religiously, writing anywhere from 50,000 to 122,000 words in the space of thirty days.

But this year . . . I don’t know. I’ve already proven to myself six times over that I can do exactly that — write a bunch of words in one month. And that’s great. It is. It means that when I put my mind to it and have a road map to follow, I can produce like crazy. But more importantly, here is what I’ve shown myself.

  • During NaNoWriMo, I write a lot of words, and sometimes I like those words, but — well, take last year, for example. I wrote > 50,000 words during November, sure. But they were throw-away words. All of them. I’ve since re-structured the entire world of that novel and invalidated every single syllable I wrote last year. All the main characters are now different. The “plot” (such as it was) is different. The world is different.
  • Even while writing last year, my heart wasn’t in it. I wrote maybe two chapters worth of actual novel . . . and the other 48,000 words were about the murder victims and the murderer as children, and what led to the crimes. I abandoned my characters shortly after their introduction because, frankly, the story wasn’t at all exciting to me. It bored me so much, I couldn’t even interest myself. (Hence the restructure of the world I mentioned earlier.)
  • I have written almost nothing since last November. And in 2013, I wrote almost nothing after NaNoWriMo 2012. Aside from some flash pieces in January and February — for the Codex Weekend Warrior, another timed writing event — I have worked on some stories I already had in the works and half-heartedly pushed a pencil across paper a few times, making notes about my novel series, trying to excitify it to at least regain my own interest.
  • I’m afraid that what I’ve managed to do is train myself that only November is for writing (with a tiny bit in January and February), but I don’t have to do it any other time. At Viable Paradise in 2012, we were cautioned about that. To avoid tying writing to other habits. One instructor quit smoking and found that he could not write anymore because he had mentally tied writing with the ritual of smoking. Give up one, the other goes, too. He had to start smoking again in order to get back to writing. November, I’m afraid, has become that, for me.

I haven’t even tried to come up with an idea for something to write. People keep asking me, “Hey, what are you working on for NaNoWriMo, this year?” and I’ve been vague and noncommittal about it. I’ve had several glimmers that forced themselves on me while I was driving or in the shower or just dropping off to sleep, but those are the desperation ideas that mean my brain is humoring me by coming up with ideas at times when I can’t do much about them.

And as much as I’d like to blame how busy I am at work — and I am very busy — I can’t. I’ve made time in the past for NaNoWriMo, even if it meant getting up at 5:00 AM or taking long lunches to write. Even if it meant taking time at Thanksgiving away from my family to write. Even if it meant missing things because I knew that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t make my word-count for the day.

But only during November. Come December 1, I go back to my normal habits.

So, the conclusion I’ve come to is that as much fun as I have had in the past doing NaNoWriMo, and as much as I’d love to have that enthusiasm right now, I just don’t. And therefore will be sitting out this year.

I’m hoping that I’ll motivate myself to at least use the month to come up with something of an outline that will help me regain my enthusiasm for this project. I want to love it, again. I want to look forward to writing it.

Also, I don’t really have a comfortable writing space. Work is out, my living room is hard because there’s usually other distractions. My home office is a place that no sane person would want to spend any time in. (Which, by the way, still leaves me out. I’m pretty sure I’m still sane. Probably.) Perhaps I’ll use November to rectify that and turn my home office into a writing retreat. (Anybody got a flame thrower and an industrial grade paper shredder they’d let me borrow?)

You have no idea how much it actually pains me to sit this year out, but I think it’s the right decision. I stopped going to two of my critique groups because I just haven’t written anything, and the constant reminder of that whilst reading other people’s work was, frankly, depressing. I purposefully didn’t go to any conventions or writing seminars or anything of that sort this year, because if I’m not writing, then there’s no need to pretend otherwise. Why spend money needlessly?

It was an attempt to light a fire under my butt to get me writing. Instead, all it did was de-habituate writing even further.

So that banner up there is a lie. It says “NaNoWriMo 2014 Participant.” But I’m not a participant. I’m a spectator, this year.

Good luck, everyone, on your NaNoWriMo endeavors. I hope you all fly past the goal and keep going into the future.

To reiterate, my “goals” (such as they are) for NaNoWriMo are:

  • do some sort of outline for at least the first novel, if not the first few in the series
  • turn my office into a place where a sane person (such as myself) would actually want to spend time, and make it conducive to writing.
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8 Responses to “NaNoWriMo 2014?”
  1. Sherry says:

    Your idea to turn your home office into a great writing space is a good one, I think. We talked about that not long ago in SL and I shared some links, which might get me tagged as a spammer if I paste them in here, so just ask and I’ll send them to you if you’re interested. :)

    One other note, though: don’t confuse “throw-away” words with “wasted” words. Nothing you write is ever really wasted because even if you don’t realize it, you’re probably learning something and growing as a writer while you write them. Doesn’t matter if you don’t use them in something that gets published. They’re not wasted!

    Also, maybe you need to start coming back to Quillian meetings! Talking about writing sometimes leads to *actual writing.* Weird.
    Sherry recently posted…Break Out of a Writer’s FunkMy Profile

    • Send ’em on, Sherry. I’d certainly like to see them. You have my email, I believe. :)

      I walk into that room and it just saps me. I look at it and end up leaving to go back to the living room. Mostly, it’s just clutter, but some of it is the arrangement of the room, as well. I need . . . something different. But first I gotta get all the crap out. :)

      As far as “wasted” words, I know. There’s a reason I used “throw-away” and not “wasted.” :) As far as the Quillian meetings, a secondary reason I haven’t been back in a while is that my computer is less than healthy, and running Second Life means I have to literally kill everything else just to get the kind of speed I need to render the graphics. Plus, lately, I’ve been working until well past 9:00 on Monday nights. But we’ll see.

  2. Brenda says:

    I think you have the right idea! I was going to do NaNoWriMo this month, but right now I feel I need to concentrate on quality over quantity. If I weren’t in the middle of two projects already, I would like the idea of it better. Good luck with creating your writing Utopia!
    Brenda recently posted…Narrowcasting and the Dismal Future of ConversationMy Profile

  3. I have never participated. The whole idea scares me because of exactly what you have written. I’m afraid I would write throw away words just to meet my goal. Instead, I will be going to Hemingway-Pfeiffer the first week in November where I intend to resurrect the apocalyptic-ish manuscript I started last May then put aside for whatever reason. I think your idea of an outline and writing space will be a great use of November.
    Talya Tate Boerner recently posted…A Halloween Love StoryMy Profile

    • I hope it will be. I’d like to have a room I can walk into and feel relaxed instead of tense. Where I can walk across the floor in the dark and know I won’t knock something over that will hurt me. :)

      And the outline . . . I’ve started a little bit on that, as well. :)
      Gary Henderson recently posted…PeNoNotWriMo 2014My Profile

  4. Dawn says:

    Can you hang a “November” calendar over your desk all the time? :)

    It sounds like you’re on the right track. Have faith in yourself and remind yourself why you started writing the first place. Maybe make a little poster of the things that started you and keep you going? Post that over your desk.

    Or start small. Try a notebook on your nightstand. One sentence in the morning, one sentence at night. As your interest in the idea grows, you’ll grow that words out.

    • Hehehe! I don’t think I’d fall for the “it’s always November” trick. Perhaps Sherry’s comment above about hanging out with writers more rather than less will help. I’m going to be doing that a lot in a couple of weeks. Two whole days of writer-gatherings. :) I need to bounce ideas off people instead of internalizing them.

      I used to write a first sentence every single day. No matter the genre. No intention of ever writing sentence two. In fact, I did this religiously for several years. And then sporadically for several more, until I wrote the fateful first sentence that got me kickstarted in 2008 that led to me joining writers groups. That may be worth a try. :)
      Gary Henderson recently posted…PeNoNotWriMo 2014My Profile

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