NaNoWriMo Dropout

NaNoWriMo is exciting.  In the days and weeks leading up to the craziness, the blogosphere is full of “Should I?,”  “I’m doing it,” and “NaNoWriMo Is Stupid/Bad Writing/Not How It’s Done” posts.  Twitter is all, well, atwitter, with the same thing.  Then, November 1 hits.

Now it’s posts about word counts and plot lines.  Writers, not realizing how pretentious and crazy they sound, complaining their characters aren’t doing what they’re told and talking about the lessons they’re learning about themselves as writers.  I wrote one of those myself. (See here.)  Participants blather on to anyone who’ll listen.  When they run out of real people, they take to the Twitter, where anyone who blindly and innocently clicked their “follow” button is subjected to annoying word count updates and complaints about not sleeping.

You can get riveting tweets like this from me by clicking the Twitter button in the sidebar. I'm sure my follower numbers will soar after this post.

After the second week, these posts and tweets start disappearing.  WriMo’s are dropping like flies.  Some choose to simply fade into the background, hoping no one will notice they flaked.  The smart ones write “NaNoWriMo Dropout” posts.  These posts are filled with the deep philosophical reasons that NaNo wasn’t for them, which all boils down to one argument, basically.

“Quantity over quality doesn’t work for me.  I care too much about my writing/characters to rush through it.”

It’s a valid argument and sure to find support from anyone who’s ever attempted to write a novel.  Like I said, they’re smart.  Me?  Not so much.

If Dropping Out was an Olympic Sport, I’d have about 20 gold medals.  You name it, I’ve dropped out of it.  Piano lessons, cheerleading, college, the gym,  watercolor painting,  Atkins/South Beach/Weight Watchers Points Plan/Low Carb/Low Fat/Low Calorie or any other fad diet you can think of.  My justification of choice is my five children.  Nobody argues with that reason.  But I know the truth.

I am lazy.  Nicer people (you know who you are) call me “laid back.”  Psht.  Let’s drop the niceties.   I am LA-ZY.  In keeping with this truth, I should have dropped out of NaNoWriMo a long time ago.

There have been several days this month when dropping out seemed like the right thing to do.  I was behind on my word count.  My story was lagging.  I was too tired.  I wrote through it, and it shows.  Some serious crap flows from fatigued fingers, let me tell you.  But I want to finish this.  I’m sick to death of dropping out of things that are important to me because I don’t want to put in the work.  What is that teaching my dear children, my scapegoats?

“Mommy could have done something, if it hadn’t been for you.”

And there it is.  The reason I’m not writing a NaNoWriMo Dropout post.  Because this mama has something to prove.  To herself.  Her children.  And anyone who says, “You can’t…”


41 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Dropout

  1. I know you can. I was worried when I saw the word dropout, but I’m so glad you’re going to keep going on.

    I’m a crazy NaNo cheerleader. But the reason is simple: it gets people writing. So even if you don’t make 50K, you have X amount of words written that you might not have had without the goal. Goals are great, and I think that’s what matters in NaNo. The quality can come later. Because, like all rough drafts, of course this one isn’t going to be prize-winning or publishable. Editing comes after you finally get the story out.

    Good for you!

    • Thanks. Actually, I’m right on target with the word count. I plan on “winning” by the end of the week. Then the real work will begin. In January, of course, when I plan on taking it up again. That will be a humbling experience. Hope your NaNo novel is coming along.

    • I was deceptive, huh? I bet a lot of people do NaNo because they have something to prove. I can’t wait to type my 50,000th word. I may print it out and frame it. See what I did? 🙂

  2. I’m glad you’re choosing to stick with it. Lame as it sounds to some people, when I finished NaNoWriMo last year it was one of my proudest moments, just that I stuck with it and finished. This year, I could use moving to Germany as an excuse not to finish but even with exploring the new city I have more time on my hands than I did last year. I am only barely above 10k words but I still plan to plug away the next nine days to get through that other 40k.

    • Wow. 40K in 9 days. You can do it but make sure you take breaks. I can totally see you chained to your computer, hair a mess, dark circles under your eyes, snarling at anyone who tries to persuade you to “step away from the keyboard.” Good luck!

      • Haha that could be an accurate image but since we just moved it’s likely to only be my husband subjected to it (and he’s been stealing the computer today for gaming so I’ve been handwriting). I did the whole 50k in 14 days last year while working 13 hour days for half of them so hopefully I can swing it. I “reward” myself with breaks every few hundred or thousand words depending how much of a groove I’m in. Thanks. Good luck to you as well 🙂

    • I still play the piano, just not as well as I’d like or as I could, if I’d kept up the lessons. I’m not sure what you’re impressed with. Being an expert quitter isn’t exactly brag-worthy.

      • Too many impressions which is what happens when replying on an iphone trying to go back to edit and pressing send instead . . . .please, feel free to delete it so I can start all over again!

  3. Erin – that is very impressive. I am a happy drop out. I found I was really hating it – and have had several 3 and 4 day migraines this month as well. I’ve stuck through a lot of my other undertakings in my life, so I’m not going to beat myself up. I was just not happy writing crap (not that I think yours will be, but I know mine WAS). I’m still plugging away, but doing it my way. A little at a time, and editing when I feel the need – and spending more quality time planning.

    • I understand completely. It’s a huge undertaking and if I didn’t feel like a majority of what I’m doing is worth something, I couldn’t do it, either. The planning is actually the part I miss most. I have notes all over my writing, “Research…Look up….Figure this out later….Insert….” I’m focusing on the main ideas and the dialogue. There’s a lot of dialogue, which I think works better if you do it quickly. It flows better. I know a lot of it will get nixed and that’s okay. This is certainly one way to write a novel, but my next one (already in the old noggin) will be done much differently.

      Good luck with the WIP and I hope you don’t get more migraines. My husband gets them and I know how incapacitating they are.

  4. Way to go! I am fascinated by NaNoWriMo but only found out the details on the 4th of the month. I opted not to do it. The fast paced nature of it really just acts as motivation to get you going on something you’ve been thinking about doing anyway. Good luck!

  5. well consider. . . alot of ” WANNA-BE ” writers have things they have written kinda of hiding under some stuff they haven’t dragged out in years, and they can tweek that to put out there when it counts. for those who are REALLY JUST starting out you’re going at it from scratch ~ so if you can keep up – GREAT – if you have one to pull outta your hat ~ means you are finally coming out of the closet with those stories you were afraid to let ayone read before –

    • Wow, he’s finished. That’s impressive. Oh well, I’ll finish and I think I can do it by the weekend. I’m taking full advantage of my week off and writing into the wee hours of the morning.

    • Would you believe my house has never been cleaner? I clean to avoid guilt and snide remarks from the husband. That, and encourage him to play golf as much as possible. NaNoWriMo is possibly the best thing that’s ever happened for my marriage. 🙂

      Sorry to see you leave Facebook. It’s kind of stupid. If I didn’t have family far away or there wasn’t Words With Friends, I’d never be on there.

  6. I refuse to quit. I have suffered a head cold, Thanksgiving, and the dreaded holiday break with a child with ADHD. I have a live story, a fresh one, not one that I have pulled out of the closet and dusted off. It screams at me daily, and the ending just became clear. NO WAY am I quitting now.

    What a great post.

  7. A good and necessary post. I signed up for the the NaNo madness half deluding myself that REAL life would take a break from wanting me to participate, but husbands, kids, and animals won’t wait. In truth I didn’t sign up with an idea for writing a novel. I signed up to keep in my mind the importance of showing up and putting pen to paper on a daily basis rather than at random intervals. Even though I am no where close to 50,000 words, I achieved a personal goal, and in the end that is what matters most to me. I’ve had enough self-flagellation in my life that I’d prefer to skip setting myself up to feel bad about dropping out. I beat my own drum.

    • Meeting goals is great! I went through a period where I wrote every day with the blog. Some crazy stuff happened and I just didn’t have the time. I’m still trying to get back to where I was. NaNo is about a different goal–writing the novel I’ve always said I would. Even if I stopped right now, I’d have 43K words of a novel completed. That’s awesome. But I’m finishing the thing.

  8. Okay, if you ain’t quittin’…. I ain’t quittin’. I have to say this last stretch is taking it’s toll. Once I sit down at the computer and just make myself start writing something, then it flows onto the page pretty well. The hard part is making myself sit down in the first place.
    Gotta muscle through! These last 6,000 words are the hardest.

    You know, I’m going to bully you into letting me read your manuscript when you’re done. I’m so curious what you are writing about! I’m sure your writing skills are miles above and better than mine.
    Thanks for being my writing buddy!

    • If you want to read it any time soon, you’re going to have to beat me unconscious (or drug me, if you prefer) and take my laptop. It’s not happening any other way. I will agree to show it to you when I think I have a workable first draft. Of course, you have to show me yours in return. We got a deal?

      Sorry I couldn’t make it to the write-in today. Good luck with the last few thousand words. We can do this!

      P.S. That comment about my writing skills? Yeah, don’t count on it.

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