I decided last-minute (in October) that I was going to partake in NaNoWriMo. At first, I was just going to do it, but then came the issue of, like, wanting to use the word counter. I romanticized that counter to no end. In the beginning, I wrote a lot—I hit 20,000 before the expected average. I was on a roll! But I don’t work well under pressure. When under pressure, I forgo basic necessities for the task at hand. After taking some days off and returning, I ran into a few issues, which led to an epiphany of how NaNoWriMo was a waste of my time.
1. I don’t work under pressure.
I said this, yeah, but repetition’s a literary device I make use of—and detail is important, I feel.
Hair spiders, and empty drink bottles of water and soda line my floor. So much time had been spent in my desk chair that the backs of my thighs no longer ache when the seat waxes the hair from them because the hair is gone and replaced by sweat. My tall, lime green laundry basket from my high school days hasn’t been empty since the last week of October. My desk, which is usually messy, is the cleanest thing in my room whilst most other surfaces are collecting one-inch layers of dust. The last book I finished reading: The Proving.
Trying to continue to churn out words for Horrible People is like sitting on the toilet and willing constipation to end. I don’t believe in “writer’s block”, but I do believe there comes a time when it’s overdone. I have stuff I was supposed to do for my blog and have slacked off to no end, for which I’m partially embarrassed and ashamed because I’m not usually quite this horrid.
When I write on my own time—when I’m not treating it like a chore—it doesn’t interrupt my life so horribly.
2. Writing when inspired/motivated works well for me.
It’s controversial, but I write when I’m inspired. Writing is not only a special interest and a hobby for me, but it’s an innate skill I’ve carefully crafted over the years. Sure, when I look back at what I wrote years ago, I’m going to think I was shit. My lexicon and experience were not adequate for thoughts and events I could better explain now. I think it works this way for everyone, or most people—it’s probably why we look back at love we had as kids and say, “That’s not real love.” We tell it to the future generations because we think we think we’re so wise, because it was said to us, but we forget of how we felt then—we forget that, to us, that love was the purest form we knew, therefore it was real.
Rather than forcing myself to shit out word after word—all of pure crap—I learned at a young age my best writing came from that which was patiently awaited. It’s still going to lead to a shitty first draft, but I’m not writing it just to fill a quota—I’m writing it out of passion. When I write, I write from the heart—typing or handwriting the words is like threading a crochet hook through yarn to complete a pattern.
What I write from the heart and out of passion tends not to come off as “first draft”-like—several of my first and second drafts have been published offline. (This isn’t to say I’d publish an early book draft, but an attempt to illustrate the difference of my writing from the heart and writing to meet a quota.)
3. NaNoWriMo makes writing feel icky.
If the constant “Donate” messages—from the link when hovering my avatar to receiving messages about it to the bar graph on the homepage—don’t do it, it’s the fucking messages I cannot unsubscribe from appearing in my inbox. I can ignore them, sure—but I am a zero-notifications kind of gal. The numbers annoy me. I notice slight differences in appearance, and when it’s something I have control over, you can bet I am going to make for zero notifications.
I imagine some good comes from NaNoWriMo, but it feels as though they act more like a nonprofit than they do a business. My “ML” person annoys me. Writing for me is not something I need to go into a cafe to do—it’s not a marathon. I don’t need to engage with other writers in-person to be able to get shit done. I’m gonna write for me. I don’t do it for the recognition, or for external benefits and/or purposes.
I write, because writing—for me—is integral, innate, part of who I am at my core. I’d be lost without writing. I love dance, but…writing is me. I’m a writer not because I work hard at it, but because it’s my primary form of communication, because it’s the air I breathe.
4. My characters felt more like cattle.
Other writers, I can’t speak for, but as a writer myself, I get excited over character development, plot development, tragedy, literary devices, morbidity, tragedy…
Everything branches off from my tragedy. Some characters exist before it, but more often than not, there is a tragedy they’ve been part of—or will be a part of, if they’re too privileged for that ish (looking at you, Em). Tragedies fascinate me because I think the way people react to them says a lot about them, and I relate most to people involved in tragedies. More, all my characters are protagonists in their story, but could very well be villains to the rest of the world. Humans aren’t inherently bad or good, and I imagine even Trump thinks of himself as the hero in his perspective.
I like uncovering them. I imagine my characters as real people. They may be all in my head, but I have to consider who they would be if they were real—like my alters, for instance. But unlike my alters, I have to attribute traits and a life-sized personality from scratch. They need depth.
If you treat cattle as all the same, they’re going to feel all the same. But if you separate one from the crowd and nurture it, you find it has a personality of its own. Maybe it likes to follow you or kick an old, half-flat basketball faded by the sun.