Sixteen days into April’s Camp, and I have handwritten 50 pages. Quite the accomplishment, if I say so myself. I’m not bothering with a daily word count. In fact, I’m not really considering myself an active participant in Camp. I don’t do word sprints, word wars, or the writing challenges. To be perfectly honest, I think they’re pointless. I see the challenges suggesting the writer insert something completely random and I can’t help but wonder, How the hell does doing that improve on the narrative? If anything, won’t it just make things more complicated during the revision process? I look on these exercises with a critical eye because that’s not how I do things. Others, however, do, and that’s okay.
I’m simply writing. Like I’ve always done since I first thought to put pen to paper. I can’t remember the last time I worked on something that felt so natural. No strings attached, no preset goals other than that of finishing a draft, and no distractions. NaNo has sadly become a distraction. I was more focused on matching the word count than on writing. It became a competition with myself and other writers. Writing should never be a competition. And that is why I’m no longer going to participate.
Part of me feels a sense of betrayal since I do love the atmosphere NaNo creates for writers. I appreciate the community feel it fosters. Writing itself is a solitary craft, and people are social creatures by nature. Just knowing so many others are sitting at their computers (or at a desk with a notebook) plugging away at a first draft was enough for others to push forward. It was never about finishing, but starting something you may not have if left to your own devices. Some writers need this. I’m not one of them. I don’t think I ever was. I wrote my epic fantasy back in the early 2000s with nothing driving me onward but pure love of what I was doing. I want to recapture that feeling. The result is a draft I’m truly enjoying. The pacing is what it should be. I’m taking my time with introducing my characters and their world. I’m getting to know them. It’s like I rediscovered the joy of writing.
I understand this approach isn’t for everyone. I’m not knocking those who embrace the community feel to better help themselves. I think it’s like how some writers are pantsers, others are plotters, some outline while others don’t, some use Word, some use Scrivener, etc. etc. In the end, it’s all about the story. Because ultimately that’s what readers will care about.