So, for those of you that I know on Facebook, you are probably aware that I was intending to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. It is something I have attempted in earnest 3 times before, but never actually saw it through to the end. This year I declared my participation out of a kind of blind desire for the achievement of it: To prove that I finally could.
In the weeks leading up to November, I started having doubts about it. Not just for the blistering pace of writing required, but if it was actually something that aligned with my goals. In the end, I want to “become a writer.” To me, though, NaNo is a contest for writers (or “tourists” to writing, but that’s a whole other subject). I think it works best for those that are into the habit of writing and want a motivation to bang out a draft, try a different way of writing, or just for the prestige. I am not in that habit at the moment. I am so rusty it’s a little shameful. So much of my time spent on my NaNo project this week has been looking up how to format dialogue or the differences between en and em dashes, because I had simply forgotten. NaNo is not a good exercise for someone with my status.
I am confident I could complete it if I buckled down and dedicated the hours to it, but it would be a miserable month. At the end I would have a first draft of my story (actually an anthology of short stories), but I wouldn’t have developed healthy writing habits, and I would have that draft at the exclusion of doing much of anything else this month. A big part of my interest in NaNoWriMo in the past has been to try to jump-start my writing again. I think at the end of it I would just be burnt out, and not very far ahead in terms of “being a writer” than where I started.
While looking around the web at writing articles I stumbled across A Round of Words in 80 Days (known in shorthand as ROW80), which you can find here if you’re interested. ROW80 is much more immediately appealing to me. ROW80 runs for 80 days total, and repeats 4 times a year. It is much more fluid and flexible, letting participants set their own personal goals, which are allowed to change as circumstances require. Additionally, these goals are encouraged to be set around the how and not the what: Rather than focusing on a finished product or a word count, it’s intended to be focused on how to build yourself to accomplish that. Also, since it runs throughout the year in stages it encouraged building habits that lead to better writing, rather than a mad dash one month out of the year.
So, I’ve decided to pick my hat back up out of NaNoWriMo, and throw it into the ROW80 ring. My goal shall be to spend an hour a day writing on my work days and 3 hours a day on my days off; whether that’s writing on my short story anthology, developing out Canopy, trying to get back into writing poetry, or reading articles and blogs on writing. This will help me to rebuild those writing skills that I’ve lost over the years and work towards a healthy, sustainable habit of writing.
Any further updates on my writing and on ROW80 will take place here, and will be auto-shared to Facebook as well. Feel free to comment at either location. I’m always happy to hear a bit of encouragement!