Tomorrow is Halloween, and for the last two years that has meant only one thing for me: National Novel Writing Month starts in two days. The event made November one of my favorite months. Samples of my NaNoWriMo output can be found here on this very site. It isn’t, you know, good, but I’m still proud of it. And the bound copies of my manuscripts — the trophies, if you will, for crossing the 50,000 word threshold — look interesting on my book shelf.

After much deliberation, I have decided to forgo participating this year. I am a little sad about it, but mostly I am relieved. Cranking out three plays in the last two months has left me a bit dazed. I still have performances four nights a week, but I am grateful to finally have a couple of nights to spend with my wife.

Also, I have a couple of writing projects cooking, and I’d rather not set them aside right now. Last night was the last session of my writing class, and I left it with a clearer idea of my goals. Part of that means that I need to slow down a little and focus on the quality of my output. I found, the last two years, that once I typed “The End” on my projects I had a hard time going back for revisions. The size of the task was overwhelming, but also I felt I had already accomplished what I set out to do. I told the story. Time to move on.

This is, I feel, the wrong attitude if I ever want to get this stuff published. But I’ve learned that I’m not the kind of writer who can complete a draft, set it aside, and then pick it up again to begin revisions. I need to keep on it, polishing as I go, doubling back, cutting and pasting and tinkering and adjusting until I am finally happy with the result. That is the approach I want to use with my current projects, anyway, and NaNoWriMo, for all its wonderful aspects, does not lend itself to that style of work.

I have not given up on NaNoWriMo forever, though. Maybe next year will be a little less chaotic. If so, I will probably dive in once more. In the meantime, I want to wish everyone who does commit to this year’s month-long writing frenzy the best of luck. It’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had.