Apparently I had to start NaNoWriMo before I could get just how wrong it is for me this year...

It only took me 3,799 words to discover this isn’t my year for NaNoWriMo.  Whew - close call, eh?

Short Version: I'll do NaNoWriMo one day.  But this is not that day. Still, I'm getting back to work on my novel again. Because that's the one I really care about.

Now for the Long Version:

One of my personal rules related to managing my life as a self-employed, A.D.D., creative nomad is that I have to honor the kookiness of my personal impulses. And? I have to be willing to let them go, no matter how awkward that path-shift is. Throw into the mix the fact that all but my personal life is publicly laid out there in my blog, for all the world to see, and you start to see why one might occasionally wish to be less... well, impulsive!

Then again, making it to this phase in life has made me confident and comfortable with my processes, for better or worse. Which means I often say "Hey y'all. Check out what I'm doing!" Then three days later I'm all "Nah, that's not workin' for me. Oops! But here's why!" If I were constantly changing my mind and never making progress toward my goals, I'd be the first in line to give me a well-deserved talking to. Actually, that happens too. But sometimes you have to jump in before you actually know how something feels!

So let's talk about this NanoWriMo business for a minute, shall we? Yesterday was the first day of the month-long challenge to write a 50,000 word novel. Yesterday I wrote 3,799 words.  And? They were okay. There were moments when the words flowed and flowed. Other times even as I wrote, my internal filters were whispering to me, "You know this is total bunk, don't you?" And all writers know that this voice is going to be there, no matter what, and we push on anyway! It's an expected part of the process. But what I hadn't counted on was just how much that one day of writing was going to consume me. Nearly everything I did yesterday was in some way affected by my decision to write this novel.

Hard core NaNo participants will tell you "That's no surprise, either. That's what you signed up for." And they'd be right, too. NaNoWriMo has a very specific set of guidelines and parameters. They're well-publicized and well explained. You don't just stumble into this commitment. You might, however, stumble into this commitment without appropriately weighing in on just what it is to which you're committing.

That's what I did. Yesterday, my work suffered. And by "work," I mean, the stuff I do every day that lets me pay my bills and live the life I live. And that was just day one. Today has started off on a similar vein. It's nearly noon and I would cringe if I had to admit to anyone just how little I've accomplished for my clients. How late I'll be working tonight in order to make sure it's been a quality workday in the matters that matter.

Still, I had to have some serious talks with myself: about what it means to commit to something, about why I decided to sign up for the NaNoWriMo challenge this year, and... what parts of the commitment I would keep, even if I didn't "follow the rules of NaNo."

Here is what I came up with:

  • In spite of the fact that the 50,000 words on a brand-new project is, in fact, somewhat arbitrary, there are reasons the parameters exist. They have a right to exist and those who promote the project have a right to expect participants to honor those paramaters.
  • I want to write my novel. The one I've already started and fallen completely in love with.
  • I had stopped working on my novel, I never figured out why, and this was meant to kick start my momentum once more.
  • I don't want to add one more random thing to a list of insane proportions. Everything on the list I posted over here matters to me far more than completing this particular challenge. But this particular challenge would have taken up a disproportionately high percentage of my energy.
  • It's not fair to call myself a NaNoWriMo participant and follow the beat of my own internal writer's drum.
  • Therefore I'm leaving NaNo, salvaging my career, and returning to my novel.
  • It is my intention, in the spirit of the original challenge, to write in my novel every day. Whether or not that means I'll write an average of 1,667 words on Before Next Saturday remains to be seen. But chances are, I'm not going to write 50,000 words this month.
  • Which is okay by me.
  • I'm considering posting my word count on this blog, just for accountability purposes. I've reached 31,000+ words in a project I care very much about. I wonder how many more I could write if I kept it at the top of my priority list.
  • One day I will absolutely take the NaNoWriMo challenge. And I will embrace it fully. I will have cleared an appropriate amount of space on my calendar so that I can honor the commitments I have made to my clients and others who are counting on me.
  • This is not that day.

Yay public disclosures, eh?