Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why I'm Glad I'm No Longer NaNo-ing

I really don't want to write this post. I dreaded it a bit, to be completely honest. Mostly due to what I have to say.

I'm giving up on NaNo.

At least, for this year.

It was a rough decision for me, but one I'm glad I made.

Last week I just barely squeaked out a chapter and even so, I was still about 6,000 words behind where I should have been to hit the end goal. This week? I didn't write a word. Not a single one.

I'm drained and haven't been sleeping well lately. Every time I'm in a quiet room so I can think and write I end up passing out. The only way I can keep myself awake is with insane amounts of coffee - something I almost never drink otherwise - or when I'm socializing. I blame the later on the fact that I'm truly an extrovert although I have become a bit of a homebody the past few years.

A few more days ticked by with no progress. The ONE day I was fully awake in a completely quiet house was when I had my day off last Friday. How did I spend my time? Not writing.

Nope. I figured "I'll check out my Facebook notifications while I have coffee and breakfast. Then once those two items are done I should be through with my online maintenance, and I can finally write." Instead I finished my notifications with a link to a article my friend posted. Which reminded me of another article I had read a few months back that I had been meaning to send to another friend. I couldn't really remember the title of the article, and so I did a search for the basics of it. I did find the article I was looking for, but I also spotted about seven others that piqued my interest.

I told myself I'd just read those real quick and then I'll move on to writing. I still had about five hours until I needed to be somewhere. Then the phone rang.

It was my husband wondering if I could bring him a lunch when I came in to do my own stuff at work. That's when I realized that I had just lost about four hours to reading Cracked articles. Each one had hotlinks in their sentences enticing you to read that linking article if you weren't 100% sure what they were referencing. Articles lead to three more, which lead to another three more; it was like chopping off hydra heads. Once you were done with one, more popped up in its place.

I had gotten completely lost on, and also lost my opportunity to get writing done on my only day off that week. I rushed to get ready and slap together a meal for Hubby and me before zipping off to work; arriving 15minutes late for the meeting I was purposely going in to work for.

This, my friends, is why I don't Tumblr. I get lost easily; I have an addictive personality like that. DeviantArt? Spent 4hrs just looking up Gambit pictures once. Writers' Huddle forum? Ali had to send me a message on Facebook telling me to get off her site and go get something to eat. YouTube? Just yesterday I spent a good hour just going through multiple videos by "Outside Xbox". Cracked? Well, Friday wasn't the only day I've lost hours of my life reading their articles. Stupid archives....

Well, after my epic fail of doing ANYTHING productive on Friday, I snapped.

I hadn't been feeling well; sleeping well - as I stated at the top of this post - and I was feeling like a loser for not being able to motivate myself to write; regardless of all the procrastination-killing articles I've both read and posted here.

Now let's sprinkle in that I had a couple of personal issues arise. My time not snoozing or working was now spent trying to fix; organize; and emotionally deal with what was happening in the world around me.

For those concerned: I'm now fine. My husband is fine. My mother is fine. My sister will be fine. My in-laws will also be fine soon; we hope.

The issues were all both major and minor at the same time; depending on how one approaches the situation.

Either way, it compounded stressors and took up more of my time than I'd care to admit.

By the time everything was all figured out it was about the 9th and I had only written about 3000 words. About a fifth of what I should have been up to.

Add in that for some reason our Vamp game was pushed back to this upcoming Saturday instead of last week's. For me, it means that what I hoped to have been two events that could respark my interest in the project - the game on the 8th and 22nd - narrowed down to just the one event this Saturday; given that the one after that would be the Saturday Hubby and I would be visiting my family.

So a large portion of my inspirational infusion was taken away. On top of that, the last game we had Lottie essentially did nothing. It was painfully obvious that particular session was essentially written to advance one or two characters; but not all of us. A large portion of the time I was chatting with Quarthix; a buddy of ours that has become a near-constant staple in my apartment lately.

Anyone who read my solitary chapter for Lottie's story will know Quarthix as Victor's player.

Point being, last game didn't really spark my imagination with me being either a bored and confused character not knowing what to do with Lottie aside from stand there and twiddle my thumbs, or I was out of character and just socializing.

Toss in that I won't have another opportunity to play as Lottie until THIS Saturday, and that's a big dip in drive and inspiration.

Between being exhausted and stressed out - which indeed lead to a bad head cold - and then my drive to tell Lottie's story more-or-less killed in the role play; I just fell further and further behind.

And I hated myself for it.

"It's simple" I'd tell myself "It doesn't even need to be good; just get SOMETHING down on paper."

"Write the actual raid on NYC. Who cares if you suck at fight scenes; just do it. Perhaps the next portion of the story will come to you by then. Heck, the raid could even be two chapters since it took two game sessions to complete."

"You can't even write for an HOUR every day? What is wrong with you!?"

I went from hopeful to depressed. Something I was looking forward to was becoming such a chore. My means of escaping, recharging, and de-stressing was doing the exact opposite. Every time I thought about writing I just remembered how far behind in my word count I was. It wasn't an escape; it felt more like a "time out"; an activity I wanted to escape from. It wasn't recharging me and exciting me; it was draining me to the point of me passing out every time I tried. I was getting even MORE stressed about writing; and ticked off at myself for not doing it.

It got so bad I even wept at least once.

I kept calling myself a loser for giving up. I debated if the truly was my passion if I kept avoiding it. I wondered how I could ever make a career out of writing if I not only couldn't put in the effort to write - even after literally scheduling time to do so - but I also would give up after falling behind.

I fell in to a really dark place this week as I wrestled with myself about this whole NaNo thing. Hubby nearly ordered me to stop attempting; he didn't like what it was doing to me. That's when I finally submitted.

It was the best decision I could have made.

Yes, I'm still a bit disappointed. It's not even half-way through the month; I could still attempt a half-NaNo of 25,000 words. But I know I shouldn't try. Nearly the entire last week of the month will be shot due to Thanksgiving and the traveling/visiting I'll be doing. Between driving, socializing with my mom and sister, getting ready for the large family dinner, SOCIALIZING at said extended-family Thanksgiving dinner, meeting up with my bestie and godson, and possibly sticking around enough to help them move in to their larger apartment... when will I have time to write? Maybe in the few quiet hours at the end of the day, but I'll probably be more inclined to just watch a movie with the family.

The more I think about this month, the more I realize how quickly it goes by. I still have so many gifts I need to make; and waiting until December to do so always ends in both disaster and me not enjoying the holiday season. My apartment looks like a warzone. Hubby tries to help, but he gets just as exhausted from work as I do; plus Quarthix is an easy distraction with his constant visits.

I'm surrounded by time crunches and clutter and that just adds to the stress I already have going. Worrying about hitting self-imposed deadlines is the last thing I need to add to the pile. I need to learn how to organize and balance my life first.

I also didn't really have any NaNo buddies. Cyhyr was again off in her little solo-writing world that works best for her productivity. Power to her, but isolating herself so completely - an infinitely easier task for an introvert - doesn't really help motivate me. I'm that person who won't really exercise without someone else nudging them to. Apparently I need a writing buddy just as much as an exercise one. Even if I don't feel like doing so, if Spink told me "let's go Zumba" I'll jump right on it. If my mom said "Let's go take a walk" I'd be glad to go with. If Cyhyr said "Let's write 1000 words and then send them to each other by the end of the day" I'd be motivated. Without these people nudging me on, I'm a bump on a log waiting for my own motivation to kick in.

So I officially threw in the towel on Sunday.

It was a fantastic feeling. I felt such a weight lifted. I cleaned. I jumped on to X-Future; which I had also been neglecting and was therefore holding up the limited playing others were attempting to do. I sang in the shower. I even played a video game; something else I haven't really done outside helping Hubby push through levels of Hyrule Warriors.

I was in a fantastic mood and was actually energized for the first time since November started.

I've also become inspired again. Partially.

I realized that without the LARP hand-feeding me a plot for Lottie's story, I didn't have one. I had her past mostly figured out, and I had a few goals. I had no clue how to get from point A to point L, though.

She's on a mission to track down Tzimisce in order to avenge her murdered sire; oh, and she wants to figure out what happened to her husband that went MIA in WWII. Fantastic. How is joining the group from Cobleskill going to help with any of that? I had no clue. Still don't.

I was stalled because I had a CHARACTER concept; not a story one.

The inspiration that struck after I threw in the NaNo towel was a series of discussions Lottie would have with the Cobleskill characters. Mostly further character development; growing the dynamic between her and the other characters. I still don't really have a plot, but I'm beginning to see how her day-to-day life would go down in the meantime.

I needed to figure out how she'd try to convince Dan to overthrow the Cobleskill prince; and why she'd want him to in the first place. That part was easy; I have had that speech lined up since before the last game; the one where Lottie did absolutely nothing.

I needed to figure out how she felt about the Gangrel in the town. She's not a fan of vampires that forsake their former humanity. Tzimisce turn themselves in to perfect versions of humans as a way to surpass them, or they manipulate themselves in to horrid beasts to escape their humanity. Gangrel also get in touch with the "inner beast" that awakes when becoming a vampire, but they become more animalistic. A Gangrel that has lived long enough may look more like a were-creature than a human. I needed to figure out how Lottie would handle that.

Lottie also needed an ally in the city; a confidant. I was going to default to Dan since he was a fellow Brujah. However, Dan's played by Ronoxym, and it would feel too much like Devon and Willow. Especially since Dan and Katelyn are so close, and so she'd just default to Nyssa.

I then thought about Lottie connecting with Hubby's one character Billy. While I can see Lottie getting amusement out of the silver-tongued lawyer, I really don't see her trusting him enough to have him be her confidant. Besides, it seemed too easy to pair up my character with my husband's.

I then thought about Victor last night. He's a rough and tumble no-nonsense kind of guy. Probably not someone Lottie will become romantic with - I didn't really want to bring in romance anyway; that's too cliche - but I could see him being someone she'd be drawn to. Even in game - mostly because there wasn't much for Victor to do either - Lottie and Victor were hanging out; which is why Quarthix and I spent the majority of game just talking.

Seeing the socialization of the Cobleskill group weave together in my head has really helped me out. I may not post any other chapters anytime soon, but at least writing is again an escape. I can once more let my mind wander. I can get these conversations committed to paper; to later lace together once I have a plot to stick them in to.

Lottie's talking to me again; well, she's talking to OTHERS, but I HEAR her. So maybe waving the white flag wasn't such a bad decision after all.

Yes, I still have a lot to learn and a lot of maturing to do before I can turn writing in to a career. I'm still a little unsure if I'll ever get there. I still have doubts that I'm as passionate as I claim; maybe I'm just holding on because I've had the dream for two decades. Investing that much time in something I give up on seems like such a waste.

Yet the majority of me feels more confident now. I'll just have to get my barrings and try again with the rest of my writing group. The majority of them can't stand that NaNo is in November; the busiest time of the year for them. So we're voting on when Struggling Writers Society will do our own NaNo; probably in June or August.

I'll try another crack at it then; as a Camp NaNo participant, perhaps.

In the meantime, I'll jot down the conversations Lottie's having. I'll play my video games that have been stockpiling. I'll clean my house and work on my crochet projects. I'll focus on the tradition my mom raised me on: Giving Thanks Tree; adding a new thing to be thankful for every day throughout November.

I may even follow Laura Miller's advice, even though I couldn't stand how she presented it. I'll let you know what book(s) I can make it through.

So, if you're like me and NaNo has become more of a chore than a fun exercise, give it up. There's no shame in it. It's not worth the stress you're giving yourself. Just wave the white flag, dust yourself off, and just let yourself ENJOY writing again; at your own pace. We'll tackle 50,000 words again in the summer.

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