It's a fault of mine. I can't handle being left out of things.
This year was no exception. It didn't matter that I was in the middle of revising my current book, with a goal to have it ready to send to my agent by the end of the year. All of my friends were talking about NaNo-ing and I was feeling jealous. I wanted in on the NaNo fun! I'd just had a shiny new idea, and November would be the perfect time to bust out a draft.
So, I talked myself into it.
This was my agreement with myself. I can get out 1,700 words a day pretty painlessly. I just need to make sure I do it during a time in the day when I don't normally write, so I don't get in the way of my revision. That way I make NaNo progress, meaning I can still feel like part of the November NaNo party, and I can keep on track with my revision process. Perfect! Everyone wins!
This whole process worked for about five days. I wrote my new words first thing in the morning and during my lunch break at work. They came out quickly, I met my word count, then I moved on to my revision when I got home from work. I was totally on track. But then I had one crazy day at work where I couldn't write at lunch and had to use all of my nightly revision time to catch up. Then I had another one. Then I had a day where everything I wrote was completely terrible. Then another one.
Which led me to a pretty tough realization...I am not a good NaNo drafter.
I'm thinking back to my first NaNoWriMo in 2008. My draft was such a mess that I had to completely rewrite it. Even then I couldn't get it to make any sense, so I shelved it. I did end up pulling it back off the shelf and fixing it, and it eventually got me my agent, but it took three straight years to undo the mess that I made with that first draft.
Then last year's NaNoWriMo. I loved my idea, but my draft was so terrible. I looked at it last December and realized there was nothing I could do with it the way it was, so I let it simmer for the time being. That simmering is still going on (and I've already poached from that draft for a scene in my current ms), and I think it will remain there for quite awhile until I feel like dealing with that trainwreck.
This year was just absolute crap. It was worse than crap. It was hardly readable. I know first drafts don't have to be good, but I thought about the first draft of this project I'm revising and how it wasn't like that at all. Sure, it took me a lot longer than 30 days to get 50,000 words, but the words I got were good words. I didn't have to throw them all away like I'm going to have to with these. If I have to rewrite every word in my draft, what is the point of all of this? Just to say I did it? Who cares?
The thing is, I'm a slow writer, and I need to learn to be okay with it. Own it. Wear it like a badge of honor. Forcing myself to draft during NaNoWriMo just forces me to turn out crap, crap that is crappier than the normal first draft crap, and it takes me more work than it's worth to untangle it. It's dumb to put myself through that.
And, for goodness sake, I have a revision to finish.
So, I'm not continuing with NaNoWriMo this year.
I can't let my compulsive need to be a part of what everyone else is doing get in the way of my personal goals. I need to finish this book, and I want to have it done by the end of the year. How does drafting, or even outlining, a new novel during November help me achieve this? It doesn't.
It kills me, though, to start something and not finish it. I always finish these things. I don't like being a quitter. But these are my issues. I need to deal with them. And I can't let them bug me, because I know it's mostly only about THE FEAR.
So, if you're looking for me, I won't be NaNo-ing anymore. I put that idea away for a later time when I can devote 100% of my energy to it. Right now I'll be battling through The Fear to the other side of a finished book.