Why I Don’t Do NaNo: An IWSG Post


Good day, my friends. 

It’s the first Wednesday of the month. And that means it’s time for my contribution to the Insecure Writers Support Group. The first Wednesday of each month, writers and bloggers share their writing stories to encourage writers of all levels. If you have any questions or would like to participate, clink on the link to learn more. 

So by this time, many writers have started their quest to write 50k words for NaNoWriMo. And this month’s optional question was geared toward NaNo. I haven’t even participated in NaNo, so answering the question is out of the question. But I thought I would insert my two cents and explain why I haven’t participated in NaNo at all.

I’ve been encouraged by a lot of writing friends to participate in this challenge. And it is a challenge. Even certain members of my family have spurred me to do it. But I feel NaNo isn’t right for me. But before I begin, this requires a preface. I recently posted on social media that I was listing off a lot of regrets in my writing journey. And it’s come at an inopportune time. So, take it with a grain of salt.

Now, here’s why I don’t think NaNo will work for me:

  1. I’m not good with word count goals. Don’t get me wrong. Writing so many words is a huge benchmark. But coming up with about 1700 words a day is daunting. It’s hard enough to produce even 1000 on any given day. And that’s even with me joining a Facebook writing group that encourages meeting word counts. Writing so many words for 30 days straight doesn’t seem feasible, even though I did such a feat back in July. And that leads me to my next reason. 
  2. I don’t have the time to sit and write every day. Like most writers, I have to balance writing with a full-time life. I work two jobs and I help out with the family. That’s roughly 3/4 of my day. Granted, I have my breaks during work, so I can write then, but I’m a slow writer. For me, meeting the ideal daily word count goal will take hours (with breaks sprinkled in, of course).
  3. I’m a writing perfectionist. Finding time to write is challenging enough for me. But I’m really bad when it comes to perfectionism. Even with a first draft, my inner critic is ever present, looking over my shoulder. It doesn’t matter if I write on my laptop or with paper and pen. Every fiber wants to make changes while I write. (It’s worse writing on my laptop, by the way.) I feel like I get nothing accomplished; like I made no progress. 
  4. I’m bad when it comes to creating ideas for projects. It’s said that there are no more original ideas; just better ways to tell the story. And I wholehearted agree with that statement. I will dare take it a step further and say the retellings are becoming redundant. Now granted, this is a lame excuse. I can research prompts on Google, Pinterest, or anywhere on social media. The problem is, like my yearning to be perfect in writing my draft, I have this need to be perfect in my execution. I freeze in fear just at the thought of trying to come up with something new.
  5. I’m constantly comparing myself to others. Like the perfectionism, there’s this fear that I will not be as good as others. I want to be happy for my fellow writers, but there’s a part of me that feels I should be where they are. I feel reading word count statuses will make things worse for my self-esteem. It’s bad enough I beat myself up for things I haven’t done. NaNo might make it ten times worse.
  6. I have a fear of failure. This is the last, and arguably, the most crippling reason. As much as I say I don’t, I can be pretty competitive. I feel the need to be good at whatever I do. Especially writing. 50k words is certainly doable, but what if I don’t meet that goal? What does that say to me as a writer? These are questions I ask myself even with the Writing Club on Facebook. I look at the stat sheet and see how many words people produce in a day. I feel inadequate because I have trouble meeting my measly goal every day. 

I apologize that this post is contradictory to the purposes of the group. But I have a responsibility to be honest with my blog followers. Now by no means, this is not to discourage anyone from participating in NaNo. And it’s not to say that I will never try at hand at the challenge. I might do Camp NaNo where I can set my own word count goal. But right now, I’m not at a place where I can commit to such a challenge. But rest assured, I will be on the sidelines, cheering my fellow writers on.

What about you? Are you participating in NaNo this year? Have you participated before? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments. I want to know your thoughts. 

Write on, my friends. And to those participating in NaNo, good luck. 

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    2016 Year In Review

    Hello, writers and bloggers. I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. I understand it can be stressful. As such, writing can be rather scarce. Because of this, I am posting my self assessment a little early. I mean, if TV can broadcast their “best of” lists a week or two before the year ends, why can’t I do the same?

    2016. What’s the one word that can sum up my writing journey?

    Honesty. Continue reading “2016 Year In Review”

    The Man in the Mirror

    When you look in a mirror, do you like what you see? Are you happy? Or, do you wish you were different? Are there certain things that you want to change? There comes a time when you have to take a good, long look at yourself, stop lying, assess what you have, and figure out what you want. Some people call this a “‘Come to Jesus’ moment.” My moment is here.

    It came to my attention that I haven’t been forthcoming and honest about myself and what I want to do with my writing and this blog to my audience. It’s nice that I get thumbs up and comments, that my Twitter followers respond to my tweets, and I get likes on Facebook when I post. The feedback is nice and positive, but I know real life is not all roses and sunshine. There are people who do not understand what or why I write. There will be cynics that will slash anything and everything I do.

    I experienced such a moment where someone close to me questioned my last post, a short story I wrote about what happened after a wedding took place. The person didn’t understand what the story was about. I had to explain the plot and why I wrote it. It then became a question of why I write and who I am. At first, I felt hurt and betrayed. I felt like shit. I felt like this person who was supposed to be friend stabbed me in the heart, twisted the knife, and left me to bleed out. But I pulled out said proverbial knife, and took some time to think about the conversation we had. It still stings, but I understood what the person was saying. I wasn’t being truthful in my writing. I wasn’t being truthful to myself. This person was the only one to call me out on it.

    So, I am writing this post to show my audience my reflection, to show what I see in myself, and to be completely honest with myself and to those who follow me. Here goes.

    I am an African-American male who loves writing. I took Creative Writing courses in college and graduated with a Creative Writing degree, but haven’t consistently wrote in years. A year ago, I made the decision to truly pursue this career. But I was unaware that the game has evolved. I need classes to catch up and evolve myself as a writer. I don’t have a group or person outside of Twitter or Facebook to look at my work and give me an honest critique. I don’t have a mentor to guide me through the writing process. I have no ideas in writing a novel or craft a really good short story. I have no experience in marketing a book, finding an agent, or whatever else is needed. I feel lost in this writing world, and need people to steer me in the right direction, or at least lend me a compass. But I want to become a better writer, and just call myself a “writer” just because I post something on a blog or write something that will never see the light of day. I want to write because I have a passion for it, and I want others to experience what I feel in my heart.

    And while I’m on the subject of being real, here are some other things I want to share. This is hard, but I want people to know the real me. For starters, I have bipolar disorder, Type I. I was diagnosed with the condition in 2005. I tried different methods and medications, but found a combination that works. I see a therapist once a month, a consistent one in over two years. Second, I work a full-time job at a national retail chain selling cell phones, TVs, video games, and other electronics. I like my job, and I’m writing stories based on those experiences. Third, I like playing video games in my spare time. I know, I should be writing, but I enjoy times of controlling other peoples’ fate, as it is. Fourth, I am a husband and a father to two wonderful kids. I don’t always enjoy being around them, especially when they’re screaming at the top of their lungs. Outside of that, I love them. Fifth, I am a Christian, though I really haven’t been putting it into practice. I don’t read and pray as often as I should. It’s not a way of life, but I am working on it. And I think what’s important is that I’m working on the things that matter, like being a better father, being a better husband, not letting my diagnosis dictate who I am, finding things that make me reasonably happy.

    Well, this is me. Good side, bad side. We all have both. I feel like I unloaded weights off my shoulder and dumped a lot in front of my audience. Whether this post will be received with praise or with venom is not up to me. I did what I set to accomplish. I hope that my audience will appreciate what I’ve done. If not, so be it.