NaNoWriMo and How I Quit Before it Began

This year, I signed up for — and then quit — NaNoWriMo in all of twenty-four hours. To be fair, I like the concept of NaNoWriMo1, and I've tried it (unsuccessfully) in the past to attempt an ill-conceived memoir. I've heard it's worked for some people, and that's awesome and why I signed up initially. It’s also a great motivator to start writing and stop procrastinating, but that’s actually not my problem right now.

In the short time I was signed up, though, I just kept getting a nagging feeling that it wasn’t for me this year. Then, out of the blue, my wife sent me part of a great Joe Rogan interview with Firas Zahabi where they talk about overtraining to the point of burnout, and I realized that’s what I was basically looking at if I tried to write 50,000 words this month for no reason than to complete a challenge. More importantly, I was already on my way to my goals of writing my book through consistently writing every day/night for a long time (the BJJ goals talked about in the video), and this one-month push wasn’t going to help me at all.

I also realized that, unrelated to burnout or distraction, I’m having a real struggle already to shift my mindset away from writing being a hobby to something I do as part of my life (again). I’ve written exactly one (non-fiction) book before (so this may not be typical), but I know for a fact that that the only way I finished that thing by the end of the year was treating it like a job. I’ve had after-hours jobs many times in the past, and I’m convincing myself that this is no different. So, I can’t think of writing because it’s November or because my virtual competition team is counting on me, but I have to write because it’s what I do now, and I always show up.

So, like that, I did what I try (and fail) to do in poker; I folded my hand and quit before I had too much committed to the pot. Technically, I quit on October 30th, so I hadn’t even started, yet. This was the earliest I’ve quit something, and I feel pretty good about it. Now, I’m going to get back to writing and stop talking about it.

  1. National Novel Writing Month, where you try to churn out 50,000 words in one month