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