I don’t know why you people do this to yourselves every year. #NaNoWriMo

3rd year attempting to complete Nano. 3rd year where I just ended up saying fuck it halfway through. This is probably going to sound like I’m complaining, or whining about it. And I’m sure, at some level I am. But this year was just… different.

Let’s back up a couple months to see where my 3rd attempt began its downward spiral.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2016 – With barely more than a title, a main character, and a sentence or two worth of notes, I declared that this would be the year I finish! Realizing however that I was completely underprepared and mildly intimidated, I figured it was time that I try out something I’d never done before. I – brace yourselves – created an outline.

Now, as first attempts go, it probably wasn’t that bad. But it certainly wasn’t that good, as I still had very little to get started with. My sentence & a half worth of notes were now a beautifully formatted three to four sentences worth.  And I’d also been doing a good bit of reading and research.  Surely that’ll get the juices flowing, right?

Wrong. The last sentence of my post on that day pretty well sums it up:

48 days and counting til November 1st. And I’m mentally exhausted already just thinking about it!

OCTOBER 10, 2016 – Short post. More me trying to motivate myself than anything. Hell, I’d even come up with a couple different mock-ups for cover art. That’s gotta get me excited.

Wrong again. I had an interesting (at least, to me) story premise and characters that I really liked.  I had a cool science-fictiony setting that I’d researched profusely. But for whatever reason, my heart just wasn’t in it.


And then November 1st finally rolled around. Determined to “kick #NaNoWriMo in its balls,” I whipped out the trusty ol’ laptop, fired up my web browser, and navigated to my collection of mostly unfinished stories on Google Drive.

At the end of day 1, I was 185 words over my wordcount goal for the day.

That overage may not seem like much, but given the lack of inspiration, motivation, and self-doubt I’d been fighting with, it was quite the accomplishment for me.

Last year I was completely motivated. I had tons of ideas and easily banged out the daily word counts. I simply ran out of words towards the end of the month. This year, I barely even had enough steam to get started.

And don’t get me wrong, it was fun to see the story develop and the characters evolve, but I never had a real desire to continue, and the outline didn’t really help at all. I was still seat-of-my-pants’ing it through about 90% of the story.

My schedule also made it difficult to devote the kind of time it takes to write a story, which is why I’ve always just done it on the side, for fun. On average, it would take me about 2 and a half to 3 hours each day to make the daily goal of 1,667, which even when I work on it through my lunch break during the week, combines for a total of about 11 hours behind a computer screen and keyboard, which gets pretty brutal after the first few days. And with family and other obligations, it’s nearly impossible to squeeze those couple hours in on the weekends.

But I persisted. By the end of day 3, I was nearly 500 words over the daily goal and ecstatic with my progress.

By the time I hit 10,000 words on day 6 however, I was a mere 4 words over and struggling every step of the way. And like the people who vow to get in shape every January, by the end of the first week, I’d said the hell with it.

It went from something I enjoyed doing, an exciting hobby of crafting these new characters and the worlds in which they live, to being a time-crunched, word-counting, soul-sucking chore. And sadly, I’ve not written a single word since.

And what’s worse, to me, is that I’d had an incredibly bizarre dream one night, one that caused me to jump up out of bed at 4 in the morning to make notes and sketches for what would be a great story! But I didn’t want to start throwing any time or effort towards it, because, well I was already 4 days into the story I’d started for NaNo. That intense spark of inspiration quickly dwindled away to nothing in the days that followed, and now, almost a month later, I’ve yet to make any further progress on either story.

I’ll continue to write… sometime soon. And I’ll likely punish myself again next November by attempting NaNoWriMo for a fourth year. But as for this year… I just can’t care.

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