Monday, October 1, 2018

Why I'm Skipping NaNoWriMo in 2018

I'm slowly learning that life never gets less busy. New things just keep on piling on without warning and you have to either adapt or risk becoming a slug.

I've got only a little over a month until my baby arrives, and I can see the incoming massive changes she'll bring to my life in the same way you can see a heavy rain creeping towards you. It's palpable, and as a result I've been trying to the check things off my to-do list that will very likely be more difficult to accomplish while trying to also raise a human life to be a pleasant contributor to society. While I haven't gotten as much done as I had hoped to (because that literally never happens), I have made some progress worth noting:

Firstly, through diet and exercise I've gotten myself out of the National Institute of Health's "overweight" category and am now what they call "normal". I'll write a whole blog post about that in the near future once I reach my weight goal, but for now let's just say I'm much healthier and happier now than I was at the start of the year, and my baby was a huge motivation to get in shape.

Secondly, I'm happy to say that I've finally finished the first draft of my science fiction novel Adrift!

That's right, I finally finished last year's NaNoWriMo novel at 387 pages/92,200 words! I had originally expected to finish it either last year or earlier this year, but I really misjudged just how many words it would take to tell the story I had outlined. The good news is that I think it's pretty good by first draft standards, and I'm already accumulating ideas for how to improve it in the second draft.

That leads me to the primary point for this blog post: I'm going to be skipping NaNo this year for the first time since I first took the challenge in 2013.

While I'm definitely not lacking in ideas or motivation to write a 50,000 word novel this November, there are two primary reasons I've decided that the best course of action is to skip NaNo this time around. Firstly is that early November happens to be when my wife is due to give birth to our first child, so I'd like to free myself to spend as much time caring for our newborn as possible.

However, even if we weren't expecting, I'd probably skip this year's challenge simply because I really want to focus on revising Adrift. Although I've tried doing both rewrites and revisions for NaNo before, it's a much messier process and doesn't end up translating very well to the point of the challenge – it's hard to know what counts as "words written" in either case. If I were to participate this year, I'd want to start a whole new novel, which would be more distracting and time-consuming than I can really afford at this point.

Weirdly, even though I don't feel conflicted at all about my decision, it's still rough to think about breaking not only my five year streak, but also my three year "winning" streak. When I first started doing NaNo, I had this vision in my head of me participating in it every single year until I was an old man, because forcing yourself to write 50,000 words in a month each year sounded like a no-brainer way to become one of the best writers in the world. I've grown up and learned about the craft a lot more since then, and while I still think the practice is very useful, there's a so much more to writing – and to life, in this case – then adhering to such an arbitrary goal.

I'm really going to miss the friendly competition.

I wish the best of luck to all my friends who are participating this year! Hopefully I'll be joining you again in 2019!