Thanks to a good Finnish friend of mine, I discovered NaNoWriMo in 2010. I took on the challenge and wrote a measly 32, 000 words in the month, but I didn’t give up and that first attempt at NaNoWriMo resulted in my first ever publishing contract for Dragon’s Teeth. Last year, my attempt at NaNoWriMo resulted in the foundation for the story that would become an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semi-finalist and eventually land me my wonderful agent Jordy Albert. So given this track record, why am I not doing NaNo this year?
1. Burn Out
Earlier this year, while furiously querying, I wrote the novel that has since become Obscura Burning due for release from Etopia Press December 7th. This novel wasn’t an easy write and the last few months I’ve spent revising and editing have left me feeling rather emotional – more emotional than I usually get when it comes to writing – because of the nature of the story: a dark, edgy, complex YA story about a troubled boy who gets tangled up in a quantum event that’ll bring about the Apocalypse if it doesn’t kill him first. While editing this dark and emotionally turbulent novel, I started a new work in progress (WiP) that was meant to be light relief. This brings me to reason #2.
For the past three months, I’ve been embroiled with robots and violins (not quite as light a story as intended). I’m currently 70, 000 words into my WiP. I’m passionate about this one and can’t wait to finish it so that I can start revisions. I’m about a week or so away from finishing the novel. While I do already have ideas for a new novel (those damn SNIs just never know when to quit), the last thing I want to do is muck up the ending of this novel by hurrying across the finish line so I can rush into a new novel simply for the purpose of NaNoWriMo.
3. Unrealistic Expectations
I’m all for NaNoWriMo. I think it’s a fantastic exercise for any and all writers and every author should try it at least once. I just don’t think NaNoWriMo is for me. Given that I’m a pantser-plotter hybrid (at the moment, things could change) I need time and space to develop my ideas, to go back and rewrite if I want to, to change characters, to change relationship dynamics, to edit as I go and generally just not feel the ridiculous pressure of having to slam out 50, 000 words in 30 days. I’ve tried it twice now and failed each time. Failing to make the daily and monthly word counts was demoralizing and demotivating and infuriating. It did NOTHING for my writing mojo except turn something I love into a stressful chore. I can’t write 50, 000 words in 4 weeks. That’s an unrealistic expectation I just don’t want or need at the moment, but I am totally supportive of anyone who is attempting this feat.
So I wish everyone participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo all the best and I’m sure there will be some amazing stories written. I’ll be plodding along at my own pace, hoping to complete my first draft before the middle of November. That’s a realistic goal and one I’ll enjoy dawdling towards.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?