NaNoWriMo! Or not.

So. After much thought, much wincing at the calendar, and much wondering where the heck October went, I’ve decided to bail on NaNoWriMo again (after skipping Camp NaNo this summer). Much like this hurricane now steaming toward us, there’s been a perfect storm of circumstances that make writing 50,000 words in November something that I really don’t want to have to focus on or worry about.

First, there’s the possibility that my husband may need surgery in early November. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that he won’t, but the chance is there, and if that were to happen, the last thing on earth I want to be concerned with is how many words I’ve written that day or week.

Second, I’ve got a story that needs to be done by November 15 that I haven’t gotten nearly as far along on as I’d like (and that I don’t want to blast out in a NaNo-style spree, because both it and the editor deserve better than me dashing something off).

And third, of course, is that half-finished novel I’ve already got sitting around, that I’d hoped to complete this year. (Forget October — where did this year ago, anyway?)

On top of all that, of the two projects I was considering doing next month, one really needs more extensive planning than I have time for right now, and the other is feeling like it’s probably going to be more like a novella. (I tried doing the write-a-bunch-of-short-stuff thing for NaNo a few years back, and it wasn’t fun, so I don’t want to repeat that.)

As with Camp NaNo this year, I know I could just start in, write as much as I can, and not worry about making the goal. The thing is, it’s really hard for me to not worry about making the goal. I’ve never been the “oh, well, who cares, I’ll just participate for the fun of it and see how much I can do” sort.  I’ve ‘won’ NaNoWriMo every time I’ve participated, and breaking that satisfying little streak without making it to the finish line would leave me feeling guiltier and less productive than if I skip doing it at all. Months ago, I was excited about the prospect of doing NaNo again, but honestly, staring down the first of November, it just feels like one more thing I should be doing — should want to do — instead of something I’m actually enthusiastic about. And I’ve got enough things — creative and otherwise — that I should be doing.

So instead, my focus for the rest of this year is going to be on finishing some of the things I’ve already started. To that end, I’m trying out some new techniques. The whiteboard next to my computer has been turned into a personal kanban, to help me keep focused and not feel overwhelmed by all the unfinished stuff, and based on a recommendation, I’ve checked out Refuse to Choose from the library to see if there might be some insight there to help (even though I’m not sure yet that I’m the sort of person she describes in the book). I may still set a writing goal for the month — writing every day, perhaps, which would be unusual for me, or setting an attainable-but-still-stretching-a-bit goal like 500 words a day — but if I do, it’ll be my goal, and a lot more “want” than “should”.

(Another goal? Update this blog more often, which means getting over my fear of saying something stupid/unprofessional/amateurish/awkward/anything that could be horribly misunderstood. I’m working on it. Stay tuned.)


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