Leave it to a writing contest to completely turn me off from writing for a solid 4 months.
To those of you who missed me, I apologize. To those who were happy I was gone, I apologize.
This may have been one of the greatest failures of my writing career. However, from every failure comes a learning opportunity. Now I know to never attempt to write a novel when I have no story line, plot, or remote intention to publish a book. I did come up with some good story ideas, however. I suspect that the beloved Raezana, Se’Quasha and Ricardo will one day have their full stories told. If I decide to continue writing during next year’s NaNoWriMo, apparently not a lot of progress should be expected.
Five days in to NaNoWriMo, I was burned out. I was tired, stressed out, anxious, and felt chained to my computer. Every moment that I didn’t spend writing was full of guilt and self-doubt. Why did I think it would be fun to impulse-write a novel? 2,000 words per day? What was I thinking? I normally write a 300-word blog post once or twice a week, if that. So where were these 50,000 extra words going to come from?
For the first couple of days of NaNoWriMo, I did okay. I had some momentum from writing a tight prologue to my novel the day before the contest officially began. The next day, I hyped myself up by perusing the message boards on nanowrimo.org and conversing with other participants.
Then, I hit a wall. As I started to run out of ideas, I realized that my characters were haphazardly developed. Where did they come from? What were their motivations? Why did they exist? On day 3, I decided to spend a few hours turning my characters into people. Afterwards, I forced myself to spit out 2,000 words of story.
As I read over what I wrote, I started to become disappointed in myself. Normally I consider myself a talented writer, but the sentences and paragraphs I had thrown on to paper were just as haphazardly formed as my characters were. I had rejected my “short and sweet” writing style in favor of run-on sentences and unrestricted rambling. I started searching for ways to throw in more words. I stopped using contractions. I became wordy.
My main character started to develop ADD. It took her hours to wash her face in the morning because she just could not stop “daydreaming.” Microsoft Word’s Readability Statistics dropped me from grade 12 to grade 5 over a matter of hours. I was officially becoming illiterate.
I hated what I wrote. It wasn’t my style. And I wasn’t enjoying writing. I didn’t feel proud of what I was producing. So I quit. I stopped writing. I took a few days to sit around and play computer games. I watched television. I voted in the election.
But now, I feel like I abandoned my characters. They are begging me not to forget them. They need love and a place to stay, just like any other human being. So, I will continue writing my story.
I have, however, determined that the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days should be reserved only for the insane. Or at least those who have a lot to say. If you are the annoying person at work who just won’t stop running their mouth, then you might have a chance at winning NaNoWriMo. However, if you are naturally quiet and reserved like me, then it might not work out so well.