3 Reasons To Quit NaNoWriMo

Finally, I have the free time to take up cliff-diving.

That whooshing noise you just heard? That was the halfway point of the month going past. Which means, for thousands of writers around the world, they’ve either hit their the halfway point of their story or are behind and wallowing in despair.*

If you are one of the latter—or even if you’re not—you might be wondering about the viability of continuing. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. And that’s fine. Don’t get caught up in the hype generated by the NaNoWroMo True Believers. For one thing, they’ve become increasingly crazy as the month has progressed, and are likely to continue down that caffeine-buzzed path for the next two weeks. For another, if they thought it would help their word count, they’d knock you down and suck your brain out through your ear.

Here are some signs that your NaNo experiment is failing:

1. The stress is ruining your love of the book. If the stress of meeting a 50,000 word target is making you hate and/or resent your story, it’s time to stop. You shouldn’t hate what you’re doing. There will be times it’s frustrating or difficult, but consistent hate is probably a sign something you’re doing isn’t working for you. Don’t stop writing, but stop writing to meet someone else’s goal. Make your own instead. If that’s 500 words a day, fine. If it’s 100, that’s fine, too. Just ready yourself for a longer timeline to first draft and beyond.

2. You’re starting to hate writing. Not just your book, but all writing. Even a list brings the Spiky Needles of the Hate God to your brain. Like a more extreme version of number one, this is an indicator that something isn’t working for you anymore. Take a break. Or at least stop complaining on Twitter.

3. You’re lying about what you’re writing. No one likes a liar. Or, if you’re going to lie, at least make up something more interesting than how many words you scored** over the weekend. The problem is not so much the lying but what it indicates: you are more interested in meeting an arbitrary goal than you are in actually writing something. Unlike the above two, stopping writing altogether is not recommended, because, let’s face it, you’d probably just continue to lie. Instead, drop quietly out of NaNoWriMo and just write. Don;t worry about the word count.

Or continue to humblebrag about winning that word war while sobbing and eating icing directly from the can. Whichever.

So, who out there is continuing? Who’s stopping? Who never started and looks down on the rest of us? Leave a comment at the sound of the beep. BEEEEEEEEEEP.

*There are also some who have already finished the requisite 50,000 words, but let’s not speak of them. It only encourages them.

**Words are like heroin, right?

How To Give Up: 6 Options For Quitting Writing

give up

You’re not going to argue with a wall, are you? (Photo credit: abradyb)

1) Hold yourself to an impossible standard. Man, nothing sucks the fun out of something like expecting to be perfect at it. And once the fun is gone, you’re just slogging away at yet another thing that eats your time. You might as well be breaking rocks into smaller rocks with a third, slightly larger, rock.
So if you want to give up, I suggest trying really hard to do the impossible. Set a goal to write a novel in a weekend and not have it suck! Make it non-negotiable that every word you write will be as pristine as the unused toilet paper of the gods! Write a multi-part epic with thousands of characters by randomly smashing your face down on the keyboard once a day! I guarantee you’ll be giving up in no time.

2) Expect that you’ll find the time somewhere. Don’t bother making time for writing. Just fit it in whenever there’s nothing worth watching on TV.* Or there’s no kids to take care of, or work shit to do. It’s always easier to not do something than to do it, right? So take the easy way out.
The best part about this one is that you don’t even have to actually quit. You can just keep saying, “I’ll get to it someday” until the stars go dark.

3) Accept absolutely no criticism. Okay, this one won’t make you give up. But after the third time you throw a hissy fit when someone dares to tell you to stop using the shotgun approach to punctuation**, the inevitable death from blunt force trauma caused by repeatedly being hit with a chair will take the decision out of your hands.

4) Listen to haters. All those people who ask ‘why are you wasting time on that?’ or ‘shouldn’t you be doing something more productive with your time?’ can really help you give up. Let yourself be sucked into the poisonous vortex of their combination of negativity and envy. Stop struggling. It will all be over soon.

5) Burn out. Instead of giving yourself time to recharge, work until you fucking hate the sight of your computer. Really bash your head against the wall on this one. No days off, no side projects, no taking a break for your uncle’s funeral. No taking care of yourself, either. Eat shit food, get no exercise, have no social activities to make you into a well rounded human being. By god, you have to sacrifice for your art and you’re going to do just that until the only release is quitting or death.
And, if circumstances conspire to keep you away, really beat yourself unmercifully about it. How else will you learn?

6) Talk yourself out of it. You didn’t really want to write that book anyway. You’re not sure if you have the talent, and it’s really hard. In fact, it’s better if you don’t write, because it leaves you with more time to catch up on Deadliest Toddlers and The Real Housewives Wars. So just sit back, relax, and give up.

*Defined in this case as ‘nothing that you’d rather sit on your ass and watch rather than actually do something productive’. It’s a surprisingly broad category.
** “It doesn’t matter where it goes, as long as it’s in there somewhere.”