NaNoWriMo for thee, but not for me

Like many writers, I’m not very good at making time to write. My days are, well, packed. I’m up at 5:15 to go to the gym, on the road at 7:20 to commute to work, at my desk by 8:30, back on the road between 5:30 and 6:00, home by 6:45 if I’m lucky, having dinner and spending time with the kid, then after she goes to bed I have to pack my stuff for the next day, make lunches, and am lucky to have half an hour to myself before going up to bed between 9:15 and 9:30. There I read for 15 minutes to unwind my brain, and then lights out.

It’s amazing that I manage to write anything, given that crazy schedule.

A friend of mine said that if I love writing, I shouldn’t give it up to exercise, but if you’ve seen me, you know I need it. I accept that. It’s why I joined the gym in the first place.

But I do write. A little, here and there. Sometimes at work, sometimes in the evenings, sometimes on the weekends (which are consumed by family time for the most part). I remember reading somewhere that David Mack, when he started out, would write for a few hours at night, giving up sleep in favor of writing*. I tried that too. The thing is, I’m not one of those people who can just sit down and start writing, especially if I’m in the middle of a story. I need to be in the zone — reread a little bit, get back into the characters, remember what I wanted to do next, and then actually be able to do the writing (and have enough time to do it, like people who write on their lunch breaks).

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I’m jealous. I’m extremely jealous, in fact.

NaNoWriMo is this month, and I’m not doing it.


I’m jealous of people who have the commitment and the drive and above all else the ability to make time to write 50,000 words in a month. Which isn’t to say I can’t do it — I wrote a 17,000-word novella in a couple of weeks, back in early 2009. But right now isn’t my time. Nor was last year. Or the year before that. Or the year before that. And so on. I accept that.

But do you follow any writers on Twitter? Because if you follow folks like Nobilis, or Void Munashii, or Inkhaven, or your favorite fanfic writer (a lot of them do it), you’re seeing word counts, status updates, messages of joy as your writer friends reach milestones… and the bad stuff too: “I didn’t write today.” “My plot isn’t working out.” “This story sucks, but I have to finish it.” “I lost all my saved files.”

I like my writer friends, don’t get me wrong, but reading their progress reports just makes me sad. As a writer without the time or the ability to make said time, all I can do is look on and occasionally offer congratulatory or sympathetic messages. And I can tell myself, “maybe next year.”

I’ve been telling myself that for five years now. Might as well keep up the tradition in 2011, too.

And now, your reward for reading my self-indulgent whining: a music video for “The Nanowrimo Song” by All Caps. Enjoy.

* This may be apocryphal**, but I’m sure Mack isn’t the only writer to ever do this.

** As Mack noted in the comments, this is indeed true. I should’ve said I might be misremembering — totally my bad on the incorrect use of “apocryphal”. Sorry about that.

Comments (2)

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  1. David Mack says:

    My story is not apocryphal.

    For eight years I got up each morning at around 8am and went to work. I put in full days, sometimes with massive amounts of overtime. Then I’d come home, make dinner, clean up, care for my cats … and then go write.

    Most of my published work produced from 2000-2008 was written nightly between the hours of 10pm and 2am, and I worked pretty much every night, including birthdays, weekends, and holidays. (I can even tell you which scenes in my novel Harbinger were written on Christmas Eve and Christmas Night, respectively.)

  2. Josh Roseman says:

    Cool. I read it once in one of your books, I believe, and didn’t remember which. Without sources, I wanted to be safe.

    I wish I had that level of commitment. I really do.

    (By apocryphal, I meant “I’m not sure if I’m remembering it correctly.” I shall fix that.)