The #EpicFail that was NaNoWriMo

Back in early October I wrote a post here all about National Novel Writing Month, or as it’s better known, NaNoWriMo. How I was planning to write a 50,000 word first draft of a story that had been floating around in my head. About how I had never gone “all in” on being a writer. How I was getting too old to play games and that I was going to take my shot or quit all this “wanting to be a writer” shit.

I had an outline. I had a title. I had detailed character bios. I had a great idea where I wanted the story to go and even how it would connect to another story I was planning to work on.

The problem? I don’t have that first draft.

I made it 1,624 words into that first draft and bailed. I didn’t even make it a full week into November before I decided to give up and walk away. The real kicker was that I wasn’t even all that upset. It was almost like I was expecting it and seeing it come to fruition was far from surprising.

To get to the point, NaNoWriMo was a huge, colossal failure.

Until a week ago I hadn’t written anything. Not a single word. I didn’t see the point. Then after a lot of thought and soul searching, the proverbial light bulb went off. I realized I didn’t want to be a writer. I just want to be a guy who writes.

“What the fuck is this idiot talking about and why am I wasting my time reading this?” is probably what you’re thinking right now. Let me explain.

To be a writer, you need to write with the goal of being published, whether that means self-publishing or having your novel released by one of the big (or small) publishing houses. To be published and see your novel in bookstores everywhere, it means you have to find a literary agent to work with you on refining (editing) your book. Then you have to submit it to publishers who will invariably want more changes before signing you to a contract.

Even if you go the self-published route, you still need to constantly work on increasing your social media presence, hawk your books to anyone who will listen and become a one man (or woman) publishing house. It can take up an insane amount of time, especially if you are still working a full-time job as well as writing.

Me? I don’t have the time or desire for any of that shit.

I want to tell stories but on my terms and in my own way. And I don’t want to be constantly worried about sales or royalties or what the current trends are. I don’t want editors telling me what to change or what they don’t like. Interacting with the writers who took part in NaNoWriMo showed me that I just don’t want to be that guy.

So what is a person who just wants to write and tell stories to do?

Simple. Post it online for free and not worry about any of the rest.

I’ve been dabbling in web serials for a few years now and I really enjoy the freedom they provide. I get to write whatever I want and then post the work online. If you want to read it, great! If not, no harm, no foul and the only thing it cost me is the time to write it.

I’ve decided to go back to the web serial format and not worry about becoming a formal writer. I’ll always work a regular job and writing will likely never be more than a hobby, and that’s fine. I can take the stories that are taking up space in my head and get them out into the world. I don’t have to be concerned with making sure they are a certain length, if they meet particular criteria, or if they embrace current trends. It’s complete and total freedom.

The first story is already in the outline phase and I hope to start posting it online by early March. It will have a definite beginning, middle and end but other then that the sky is the limit. As it gets closer I’ll share more.

For the first time in what feels like forever, I’m excited to write again. Thanks to an epic failure and NaNoWriMo.

Writing, NaNoWriMo and Going All In

I’ve wanted to be a writer since my early twenties. I didn’t have a passion for writing (or anything else really) as a teenager so I was what you might call a “late bloomer” when it came to finding what I wanted to do. Since then I’ve talked about being a writer, thought endlessly about being a writer and written lots of words on various blogs about my desire to be a writer.

Yet, when it comes to actually writing a story, with a beginning, middle and an end, I have come up short in every way.

I’ve written for blogs and websites, sure. I’ve written countless words about comic books and pop culture, endless sentences about basketball and sports and enjoyed doing it. But that was never the kind of writing I wanted to do.

I want to tell stories about regular people. Not fantasy tales or science fiction epics. I want to tell stories about normal people and their lives. The mundane and boring mixed with brief moments of incredible passion and emotion. The honest way all of us go about living our lives until we all pay the death we owe.

Despite the fact that my head is filled to overflowing with ideas, have I ever written any stories like that?

Nope.

Why not? Because I have never gone all in on trying to be a writer.

I’ve never sat down and planned out a story, created the characters and situations and then actually wrote a story from start to finish. I’ve never done the hard work and finished a first draft. I’ve always had some excuse. That I don’t have the time or I’m working on my web serial that no one reads or I’m depressed.

I’ve never gone all in.

I think it’s long overdue that maybe I should.

Because time grows short. If not now, when? As someone once told me “Either one day or day one, you decide.”

I need to take my shot.

Every November writers around the world take part in NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a 50,000 word first draft in the 30 days of the month of November. It doesn’t need to be a finished novel, just the start of a first draft that you can continue to work on later.

For me, my goal is to finish a complete first draft by November 30, even if it’s more than 50,000 words. If I can’t do it, then I’m done trying to convince myself I can be a writer. There’s just no point. I’m not going to continue with the idea I’m going to be a writer “someday” if I won’t do the work and tell the stories I have in my head. I’m too old to keep doing that. At some point it just becomes sad and pathetic.

And for the three of you out there who might care, yes, this means that my web serial Blood Sprawl will be going on hiatus, probably until next year.

I need to do this. I need to see if I can get that first draft done. That I can maybe be a writer who actually writes something. That I can do the work I need to do and finish writing a book.

I’m going all in.