It pains me to write this, but I will not be participating in NanNoWriMo this year.
Last year I was a NaNoWriMo virgin, but managed to complete 50,146 words of crap in the 30-day sprint to novel-writing success. It was a heady experience that went against my usual Type-A personality. The idea of sitting down to write a book without a clue about the characters or the plot made me a bit queasy. Despite my apprehensions, I managed to carve out time each day to sit and write. That alone was a major accomplishment.
I was all ready to dive back into the crazy-loving mayhem that is the month of November for NaNo novelists. Earlier this summer, I’d even plunked down a $50 donation and received a copy of the lovely Plot Bunnies print. Last week I started looking at everything on my calendar in an attempt to get strategic about clearing the decks for November’s writing marathon. Shortly after calculating that I have roughly sixty hours of blogging to do between now and November 30th, I realized I needed to do some serious thinking.
So, I went for a walk and had a little chat with myself.
“You should just do it. It’s only one month.”
“I know, but I have so much going on. If I add that into the mix, there’s a good chance I’ll lose my mind and maybe my boyfriend.”
“I am not.”
“You are too. If you were a Real Writer, you wouldn’t let anything get in the way of your craft.”
“I know, but …”
“But nothing. You’re a butthead. You’re never going to become a published author if you can’t even devote one month to your writing.”
“That’s not true. I’m sure lots of people who’ve never even heard of NaNoWriMo get published. “
“Whatever. All I know is that if you can’t commit to your book, it’s never going to get done and you’re going to wake up one morning all old and tired and dripping with regret that you didn’t start sooner because now it’s too late to start and even if you did, you’d probably die before you finished.”
“It’s my job.”
“That’s not going to happen. I am working on my book. I’m just not ready to write yet.”
“Not ready? That’s a lame excuse. Just sit down and start tapping those keys.”
“I could, but that’s not how I work.”
“What do you mean ‘that’s not how I work’? What are you, some freakin’ prima donna now?”
“No. I just know I need to plan.”
“Maybe. Sometimes. But not this time. I have a plan and it involves planning and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“Well, you don’t have to get all testy about it.”
In the end, me and myself shared a cup of tea, some peanut butter toast, and made the joint decision to put my NaNoWriMo aspirations on the shelf for this year. I felt a little sad and a little guilty. I mourned, for a moment, the camaraderie that I enjoyed last year – both virtual and at real world write-ins. I second guessed myself a half a dozen times. But, in the end, I stuck to my guns. I know that I have a book in me (a five-book series, in fact). I also know that – like J.K. Rowling – I need to spend a good deal of time planning before I put down the first word. It may not take me the five years she spent, but I will create an impressive collection of notes, outlines, character sketches, reference materials, maps, timelines, and more. I am writing a book, but first I am creating a world. That takes time, thought, and a good deal of scribbling into notebooks.
And that’s okay.
I’ll miss my NaNoWriMo friends and the rush of watching the word count climb each day. I’ll wonder wistfully whether a 2010 manuscript might have yielded a great new character or plot twist that could be salvaged for my real project (last year’s novel did just that). But, I won’t regret my decision to RSVP a “not coming” to the NaNoWriMo party. I’m still going to work on my project, but I’ll do it in my way and at my pace. And it’s going to be awesome.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? What made you decide yes or no?
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who, among other things, works as a marketing strategist and copywriter. She helps creative entrepreneurs (artists, writers, idea people, and creative consultants) discover their “natural” marketing groove so they can build their business with passion, story, and connection. She also blogs. A lot. She is a mom, a singer, and a dreamer who believes in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Look her up on facebook or follow her on twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.