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Copy and pasting this from a reply I just sent.

I'm thinking of bowing out of NaNo this year just because my heart really isn't in it. Instead of being all "Yay! Excited!" looking at the forums and such, I'm seeing all the "OMG STRESSED!" and "OMG I'M ALREADY AT 20K AND I PLAN ON GETTING TO 35K TONIGHT!" posts and thinking to myself that the fun has been taken out of it for me.

I am grateful that this November looks to be the kick in the pants I needed to plow through that block I had on my story (and essentially I'm cheating by tacking on an additional 50,000 words to a previously written novel, *gasp*!) so that hopefully I can finish something I've had in limbo for nearly a year. I'm taking a very laid-back approach: if I happen to reach The End with the wordcount under my belt, awesome. If I'm still writing December 1st without hitting the big goal, awesome too. I have so many deadlines in my everyday life right now, adding one to something that I look forward to at the end of the day as a way to forget about the daily stresses and aggravations (and the fact that I've honestly haven't been able to write in quite some time) just doesn't seem right to me this year.

To me, the basic premise of the whole NaNoWriMo thing was this: "One day, I'd like to write a novel." Putting yourself in a creative pressure cooker proves that with a deadline, yes, you can write a novel. It's a mad, fun, exciting thing to do, especially if it's a first time thing and you can't believe the words that are flowing onto the screen are actually coming from your brain. There's a certain joy in seeing characters do things that you hadn't originally planned them to do, plots appear out of nowhere, twists and turns that you basically stitched together from conversations you might have overheard while waiting in line to get lunch. My first five novels (some badly written and never to be edited, others that held some promise but never got past the rough draft) were exactly like that; a month-long trip to the writer's version of Disney World. My sixth novel was more of the "Okay, I know I can write 50,000 words in a month. Let's see if I can do it in less than a month." It was a competition with myself, to try and beat the last year's finish line. That in itself was fun, but I began to forget about how great it was that my main character had started showing off facets of herself that I hadn't originally given her in favor of marveling at the fact that I could put in a 10,000+ word day in less than six hours if I sat on my couch and wrote non-stop, taking only brief bathroom breaks and learning that I can type fast with one hand while I ate a sandwich with the other. I might have "won" the wordcount in less than a month, but I crashed and burned as soon as I saw 50K on the bottom of my screen. If my computer hadn't eaten my novel, I would have probably deleted it because in the end, I really didn't care about the characters as much as I thought I would have. All that truly mattered to me was that I write something, anything to pad my word count.

Last year, I think I did a mix of the two. On one hand, I had grown so attached to my main character because I had written Someone Like You and A Rush to the Start beforehand that I was afraid to hurry along and ruin things, but on the other, I was happy that I was putting down a detailed (probably overly detailed, seeing how little of the actual gameplay I covered) foundation to some of the friendships Moira had in Origins that were only briefly mentioned about in the other two stories I had written about her and I was doing it all in less than two weeks. I knew I had TONS more to write before hitting the end, but once I hit that 50,000 threshold, the words skidded to a halt and no amount of picking at it would help. I've tried over the past year to pick things back up, but I've always come up with a great big blank. That's why I was so surprised when instead of starting something new this year, Moira and Alistair and the rest of the crew wanted to come out of mothballs and get back on the front burner. Writing this story has become fun again, and I really don't want a deadline to put a damper on that.

So that's my plan. I'm still going to write every day, but I'm not going to push myself to get to a set daily goal. If I finish within the 30 days, that's fantastic. If I don't, that's great too. All that really matters to me is that the story is moving again after being at such a standstill and that I'm enjoying every minute of it.


Nov. 3rd, 2011 02:24 am (UTC)
Makes sense to me. I used to run Book In A Week challenges (first draft only, shitty writing expected to get a first draft down) and I found I really had to be in the right mindset and had a lot of prethinking done for it to work well. When I'm already stressed or have been through first drafts before or just can't get excited about it, it just isn't worth pushing myself for an unnecessary outside deadline.

I wish you good luck for whatever you produce and hope you don't get sucked into the contagious panic that can manifest on forums.

Edited at 2011-11-03 02:25 am (UTC)

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