Why I’m a NaNoWriMo Dropout

When I first started college, my major was English.  After leaving community college and going to university, I switched it to English, Secondary Education.  I attended my first teaching class – for 2 class periods before dropping it and the education major and adding the creative writing emphasis.  Why?  Because teaching isn’t for me.  Taking two classes made me realize this.  So, this is – was I should say – my first year doing NaNoWriMo.  I lasted all of 4 days.  Why?  Because this too isn’t for me.

I tried my hand at outlining before November 1st came around to see if I could do it.  Unfortunately, I ended up quitting it and trying my hand at pantsing.

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a pantser at heart who plots some along the way.  (I like to call that a pantsing-plotter.)  Within the second day, my character, Jimmy from Piercing Through the Darkness, decides that he wants to change things up some.  Okay.   It really isn’t his fault.  I set him up for it by giving him a domestic disturbance situation to break up.  (He’s a cop.  If you haven’t read Piercing Through the Darkness – go for it!)

Well, it turns out, I know NOTHING about cops or what it means to be a cop aside from what I see on TV.  You all know my penchant for Castle.  So, I get to work alongside a fantastic author I met through Melissa Foster’s launch party, Stacy S. Eaton, who happens to be a cop.  Fantastic lady.  (You all should buy her books and follow her blog.  Just sayin’.)

Pantsing isn’t a good thing if you plan to write a novel in a month, for me at least.  I’m just throwing that out there.

What am I gonna do now?

I’m going to work with Stacy and re-work my novel.  I may even write an outline. *shudders*  However, that being said, I’m back to working on my vampire/werewolf novel.  If feels good to get back to it actually.  So I may finish it first and then write Lighting the Darkness.  (Cool title, huh? ;))

I want Lighting the Darkness to be amazing.  I want it to be better than Piercing Through the Darkness.  I want it to be loved.  Most importantly, I don’t want it to feel forced.  I want to spend the time on it that it deserves.

I should’ve listened to my own advice.

Also, I’ve had a lot of things come up this month not to make excuses of course.  It was my nieces birthday that took my sister and me days to get together.   And right now my nephew is in the hospital with the signs of salmonella, but they still don’t know what’s wrong with him.  Then in a two weeks it’s Thanksgiving (which involves three different dinners for my scattered family) and my mom’s birthday.  So, really, NaNoWriMo is the last thing on my mind.  But aside from being busy and having family to look after, my novel deserves better than what I can give it right now.  It’s not my time to do NaNoWriMo.  I’m not sure I’ll ever do NaNo again really.  It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea.  The potential is great.  If you love it and are having fun, fantastic!  I’m happy for you, and I wish you the best.  I just think, in my own opinion, I prefer quality over quantity.

How do you feel about NaNoWriMo?

20 thoughts on “Why I’m a NaNoWriMo Dropout

  1. This is my first time at NaNoWriMo, after years of meaning to participate, putting it off, and cheering others on. I’ve been out of a regular writing practice for a very long time, so initially NaNo was like returning to the gym after a long dormant period – my muscles were sore, I was tired, and I was comparing myself to everyone else and thinking they were so much thinner/prettier/more dedicated than I was. But after a few days, I started developing more strength and enjoying the endorphin rush, and once I worked up the courage to talk (or tweet) to some of those thinner/prettier/more dedicated people, I realized they were fun, supportive, and equally as neurotic as me.🙂 That’s been the best part of my NaNo – the community support, and the incentive to get my butt in the seat and write (plus I want 50% off Scrivener at the end!). I don’t know if my final product will be anything amazing, and I’m not sure I’ll ever do Nano again, but I’m glad I made this my year to do it, if only to get back in the habit of writing while meeting some great people (yourself included) along the way.

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    1. That’s a great reason to participate. I have a pretty decent schedule with my writing, so it wasn’t the “boot camp” aspect of it for me. I just wanted to see if I could write a [good] novel in a month. No. I can’t. haha The first 25 pages were terrible, and my book is so much more deserving in my opinion. But meeting all of you has been amazing! And I hope that we can stay in touch even though I’m not doing NaNo. I want to support everyone participating. I just don’t want to participate. 😉

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  2. alexandracorinth

    I have never committed to NaNoWrimo before this year because, while my style/pace of comfort has always been notably fast (I produced a 50,000+ word novel in a little less than a month the summer I turned 15), I think the pressure to produce a volume of work every single day has been particularly overwhelming. I am in graduate school, teaching three classes, etc. – also not excuses, but certainly added stressors – so this may have not been the best year for me to try my hand at this. I mostly wish I had taken advantage of the pressure when I was younger and less busy, because while I feel like I can do it (if I get caught up this week!), it feels, as you said, forced and not of my typical writing caliber because I am having to squeeze in 15 minutes here and 10 minutes there.

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    1. See, that was exactly my problem! I just feel like, as I said in reply to Lee, my work is more deserving than a quick rush by of words. I believe you can do it! And remember, as someone, well many people, have told me, it’s not the wordcount that matters. It’s the getting into a writing habit. Of writing each day. 🙂

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  3. I fully agree with you. NaNoWriMo has been losing face with me very quickly. This is my first year doing it as well. The quantity over quality thing is disturbing me a lot. I never write outlines either – I’m glad to know there’s at least one published author that’s as ‘disorganised’ as me. I didn’t know it was called “Pantsing” though..interesting…why?

    I’m sticking with NaNoWriMo because I just want to see if I have the capability to write 50 000 words in the time frame…although I doubt it cause I haven’t even reached 10 000.

    It has ruined what I wanted my novel to be though…hopefully I can revamp the story afterwards.

    Thanks for this post!

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    1. I’m sure you can revamp it. That’s what edits are for. All first drafts need to be revamped! I was just discouraged with mine from the start, and I didn’t want to continue with it and feeling the way I did.

      It’s called pantsing because we write by the seat of our pants. Not knowing what will happen from scene to scene. 🙂

      And, I’m sure you can reach 50,000 words. And even if you don’t, oh well! You tried. That’s what counts.😀

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  4. I hope your nephew is feeling better soon!

    I’ve never done NANO, but I think speed-writing has its benefits: namely, you don’t have time to edit or doubt. It’s good to have a support group, though comparing yourself to others can be dangerous. Mixed bag, I suppose. Writing, overall, can be very dangerous. It can change the world. Proceed with caution! Or with wild abandon! Proceed!

    I want to ready your vampire/werewolf novel right now. GET AT IT!

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    1. Thank you! He’s actually coming home tonight! YAY!

      And, I agree. It does have it advantages. I just don’t think it’s right for me.

      And yes, writing overall is VERY DANGEROUS! 😉

      lol. I’m not even sure this novel will see the light of day. (Seriously, no pun intended.) I just had this story in my head I had to write. I’m halfway through with it now though. Well, over halfway. Wow. That feels odd to say.

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  5. I think NaNo is a really great idea, and I defend it when people put it down, but I can’t imagine ever taking part. (There’s all sorts of things in the world that I think are valuable and important that I know aren’t for me.) Why should I interrupt work the book I’m editing in order to write another book, which I can’t possibly do in a month anyway? For me, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s a really cool idea. I wrote about it last year, when I read an article complaining about it: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=2793

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    1. “Why should I interrupt work the book I’m editing in order to write another book, which I can’t possibly do in a month anyway?”

      I think that was my mistake in the first place. (Although I’m writing the first draft not editing.) I want to write Lighting the Darkness. So bad! But I don’t want to abandon my current WIP and like I said, I want it to be the best it can be.

      And the idea of NaNo is great. I’m not against it. I’m actually for it if it helps you. I just know now it isn’t for me now. There are a lot of success stories from NaNo, and I’m really happy for the people who are making it work.🙂

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  6. One of the big Nanowrimo draws for me the first time around was the necessity of getting “over” the first draft. I’ve seen a lot of aspiring writers (I’m not saying you) start Nano, quit, then swear to pick it up again in January, April, May, next November, when they “have time”… all too often, that follow-up never happens.

    I use Nano as a way to get a first draft done fast, then edit to my satisfaction later. A lot of writers try to get everything right the first time, which usually results in them quitting in frustration.

    I like Nanowrimo because it’s inconvenient, difficult and demanding. The community support and peer pressure can be highly motivational to some writers who are just getting started. It was for me, anyway. Now I stay because of all the other cool writers I’ve met.

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    1. “I use Nano as a way to get a first draft done fast, then edit to my satisfaction later.”

      That’s what I thought at first. I wanted to use it to write the sequel to my novella, but stopping my other WIP to write this one, messed me up, I think. My first drafts are never right. They go through a lot of edits. I just hated what ended up being the first few pages of my “NaNo” project, so I needed to re-think it.

      I’m not downing NaNo as a whole. The idea is fascinating, and part of me wishes I would’ve kept trying. The people I’ve already met from NaNo are fantastic people, and the support is AMAZING!

      And, I hope people realize I don’t hate the idea of NaNoWriMo. I’m not rallying against it either. It’s just not for me.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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  7. I’m doing NaNo specifically because it’s inconvenient. November is a terrible month for it. Everyone is so busy. But you know what? I have 5 kids and a job. I’m ALWAYS busy. So, what? I put my novel on an already long list of things I want to do but probably never will? God, no. I stop the excuses and just do it. I can sleep when my kids are out of the house.

    I love that NaNo gives me a goal and holds me accountable. I love the support. I love knowing I am finally writing instead of talking about writing.

    I’m not delusional. I know that a lot of what I’m writing is crap, especially the early work. But I’ve hit my stride and my little “icebreaker” novel is turning into something worthwhile. Mostly, I’m enjoying the process. I can understand how NaNo isn’t for everyone and I don’t know that I’ll ever do it again. However, I’ll always be happy I did it. It was the kick in the pants I needed to shut up and write already.

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    1. That’s a great reason to do NaNoWriMo. I’m glad you’re managing to get the book written, and you’re right about it holding people accountable for writing.

      NaNoWriMo is a good thing. I just think as this particular time, it wasn’t for me. Stopping my current WIP totally threw me off, I think. Also, I need more time to work out the kinks in my sequel novel. Pantsing wasn’t working for me this month. I had my head stuck in my other novel instead of focusing on what I wanted to achieve with my sequel. So, all in all, I probably should’ve just finished out my WIP for NaNo instead of starting something new.

      I may try it again next year, but I don’t know. I guess it depends on how badly I have a novel I want written and it I can get prepared for it.

      Thanks for stopping by, and good luck! I hope you can finish your novel.🙂

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  8. Janece

    This is my 5th year in NaNo. I have yet to finish (there are ALWAYS some great reasons not to! LOL) This year, I want to finish because it would offer me a sense of accomplishment after dropping out 4 prior times (once after 30K at Week Two).

    Week Two is the toughest. I think it has the highest number of dropouts of all the weeks.

    The important thing is for people to spend time doing what is meaningful to them. Good for you for doing that.

    For others out there who might be struggling but want to continue, I just had my post on overcoming Week Two challenges (like writer’s block) posted to WrimoFTW, a blog especially for the great bunch of NaNo participants. You can find it here http://wrimosftw.blogspot.com/2011/11/got-block-try-wedge-by-janece.html

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I certainly hope you reach your goal!

      Like I said, I’m not downing NaNoWriMo as a whole. The concept is fun and the support is great. It just isn’t for me. Maybe if I can get more organized, I might try it again next year, but I don’t know. I guess we’ll see what next year brings.😉

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  9. earlybird

    I guess I’m just seeing it as one ginormous freewrite! There’s no way this is a novel. No way. But it’s a story with characters and they’re taking me to interesting places. I think the most important thing for me is to rise to the challenge of writing every day. However I have some commitments coming up which might mean I have to abandon the idea of 50,000 words too.

    I know I can write better than I am at the moment but that’s what editing’s for. It’s also a challenge for me to try to abandon my ‘inner editor’. I’m finding out all sorts of things by doing this exercise. But hey! It’s only day 12 – still a long way to go…

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    1. I have a hard time with my inner editor sometimes! Although, I quit because I wish I would’ve plotted (and I hate plotting). My story was going nowhere, and it deserved more attention than what I was giving it.

      However, it is a great freewrite! And I’m glad to hear your story and characters are taking you to interesting places. That’s always one of my favorite parts of writing!

      Good luck! I hope you meet 50,000 words!

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