Tuesday was the first day of November and for the first time since 2012 I’m not going to undertake NaNoWriMo. I started doing this marathon drafting challenge when I didn’t yet know how to write novels.
A little over a year after I started this blog, the same time that I left a job I resented in favour of going back to uni. I did my first 50,000 words in a month, and since then I’ve done NaNoWriMo ten times, each time I reached my target. Cumulatively I’ve got 500,000 words from these sprints.
This year, I finished editing a manuscript in the last couple of days of October, and I thought about NaNo. I could have worked on a manuscript I started earlier in the year which is a little under 50k words, for Nano, or I could have started a new project. But instead I decided to start working on fun, possibly a novella or short novel. It’s a story a friend and I came up with for a film, one day we might make it, but novels are my bread and butter, so it seemed easiest to get my thoughts and ideas into a shape by writing it as narrative fiction.
The habits and skills I’ve developed over my years doing NaNo will never leave me. I am so glad I have learned to write first (and fast) and edit later–I find it so much easier to shape something when it’s all there, with an ending, than going over what you did last session, fiddling with it, then switching to write something new. I can sprint now, in half an hour I can get up to 1000 words, something I would never have been able to do before.
It feels strange to leave behind something that has been such a prominent feature in my calendar. I put it in my goals for 2022, but now November is here, I don’t have the energy or the determination to make it work. Last year’s version I aimed for 30k instead of the traditional 50k, and it was still tough. It feels right to let this go.
I’ll probably keep NaPoWriMo, the poem a day challenge in April, as I don’t write much poetry outside of that month. I enjoy the prompts, even when I ignore them, and it’s a good boost to my poetic productivity. For fiction, I don’t need it. I am producing at least one novel a year, which is my aim, and it looks like I’ll be able to continue that for the foreseeable future. There might be a time later where staying inside writing every day seems like a good idea, but it’s not going to happen this year. Post-covid restlessness maybe?
I think it shows growth that I’m not cramming all my output into one month, and instead am able to get 100k or more over spread through the year. Or it might just be that, after ten times, my competitive urge has faded. I also can’t rule out that I got old and tired.
Whatever the reason, I have a fun horror story brewing, perhaps I’ll make a collection, and a half-finished romantic comedy novel to keep my readers entertained after Singular Purpose. What good is being a writer if I’m not entertaining myself first? Comment below if you have any creepy pasta stories rattling around that might make a good addition to my horror collection.
Stay safe, and if you’re in Melbourne try to stay warm and dry until the weather sorts itself out and we get to have a summer of some kind.