Why I Quit Nano

I had been looking forward to November since, well, last November actually! I did Nano for the first time last year and it was a revelation. Not because I’d never written a book before – or quickly – and didn’t believe I could. More because it was so tremendously freeing to be able to write a book that I knew might be crap – heckles, it probably would be crap – and it didn’t matter. Because there was no way in Hell I’d ever be showing it to anyone. Not my agent, not my editor, not even my cat. It was that hideous.

But it didn’t matter. I didn’t have to show it to anyone. I could send it to the “trash can” and nobody would care. And I loved that feeling. Most of a writer’s life is spent creating your “book babies” and then sending them off into the world and hoping people will like them as much as you do. With NanoWrimo, you don’t need to care if anyone hates your baby. In fact, it’s not really a baby at all. It’s more like a “book slap-up lunch”; the kind you make for yourself when there’s nobody else home to cook for. You can have a potato chip sandwich and a jar of gherkins and icecream with Milo on top and it doesn’t matter because nobody else is there to complain about the crap food.

So, basically, NanoWrimo rocked my socks last year. This year? Not so much.

But WHY? What went wrong? The super-awesome premise of the month was the same; I had more friends than last year doing it with me; and I would actually be starting at the beginning of November (instead of halfway through, like last year), so I’d have more time, right?

But then, my copy edit for Thyla came back (to my enormous excitement), and I had to send it back to my editor halfway through November. People suggested to me I could edit AND do Nano and, at first, I thought I could. But as I started editing Thyla I became so immersed in its world again, almost to an obsessive degree. I knew there was no way I could work on that and even think about another MS.

But when my edits were sent off, then I could Nano, right?

Well, yes, I suppose I could have, but I actually found I didn’t really WANT to. Working on Thyla had been intense. I actually had no desire to lurch into another intense writing project straight away.

But I did want to write. And so I set myself my own goal:


Write as much as you want to every day. Be free in your writing as if you were writing a Nano Novel, but without the requirement to write 50,000 words. Instead, write as many words as you can. Take your time. Write good words. Research. Take time to breathe. Take time to get to know your characters. Drink cider. Breathe.

Let. Go.

Because that’s the thing I’m worst at: give me a challenge and I’ll give it everything I’ve got, even if it nearly kills me. Give me a deadline and I’ll make my own deadline that’s a week earlier than the other one. This often results in exhaustion on my part (mixed with the thrill of achievement). But it’s the only way I know how to work.

Not this November, though. NanoWrimo is awesome, no doubt about it, and maybe I’ll try again next year.

This year? I am happily tinkering with my druid WIP. I have written 30,000 words. I probably won’t get to 50,000. But I have read a lot of books. I have hugged my cat lots. I have spent nights sprawled on the couch watching Friends repeats with Husband Bear.

This November, it has been KateLetGoMo. It might produce an awesome druid WIP. It might not. It might just result in more quality time with HB and Mephy Danger. And that’s an enormous gift in itself.

To all you Nano-ers soldiering on, I salute you. You are doing something of which you should be immensely proud. I hope I can join you next year!