For the last five years, every November led to frantic typing as I tried to knock out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I was a compulsive NaNoWriMo. Each year I swore it would the year that I finished a first draft. The year that I could say, here is my giant stack of pages ready for the world. Or at least for some serious editing.
But the thing is? I hated it. At work, I felt sneaky trying to cram in four pages around conference calls and distracted that I might get caught. At home, I felt like I needed to declare hours away from friends, roommates, or partners to “be a writer”. And to get huffy if that writer zone was infringed upon by the slightest noise, question, or once- to my great shame- when I was offered a cup of coffee. It didn’t matter what I wrote, as long as I met my daily word quotient, and when my brain got bored, my characters would get attacked by robots, all die, etc. only to be resurrected back in the sensitive literary novel the next day.
I was writing, but I wasn’t creating anything. For me, it was the difference between riding a stationary bike in a gym and biking through the countryside. No view, no sensations, just putting down words to get to that magic number every day.
I know plenty of writers who claim their success is based on forcing themselves to meet a word count every day. And lord knows, writing is a nebulous enough thing without anyone decreeing one way that it should be done.
But in my case, I not only never met the word count goal for the month, I never liked a single thing that I wrote with that word count hovering over my head.
So this year, I’m not doing it. Instead, I’m setting a goal to do some writing every day. A poem. A journal entry. A blog post (wouldn’t that be grand!). To keep myself writing. But if it’s one good sentence, instead of four pages, I won’t punish myself and get all those voices in my head going about whether I am a “real writer,” “lazy writer,” etc.
To those of you about NaNo, I salute you. It’s just not for me, anymore.