Well, I failed NaNoWriMo.

Okay, so “failed” isn’t the most constructive word to use, but I am feeling somewhat masochistic and in need of a stern talking to. This has been a difficult year for me, but I feel I’ve been making a few too many excuses. I’ve been made redundant, headed out onto the hostile airless moon that is Self-Employment, and I published my first book; which nobody knows about and I’m struggling to figure out how to make people know about it. But I am free; what more do I need?

I thought that with my workday effectively under my control, I’d be able to negotiate with myself to get the necessary time I need to write 1,667 words a day (or sixteen-and-a-half centiwords, as I have started to think of it). Problem is, that amount of time with me is a bit long, it would seem. Something like 4-5 hours, most days. Which makes the challenge at best a 150-hour commitment that earns me exactly zero toward my monthly deficit of bills.

I know, I know, “silence your inner editor”. All very well to say that; I am the inner editor. I cannot write trashy throw-away things and such free-form exercises don’t seem to get me very far. I am also aware on some level that if I only did, then some good parts would inevitably stick out of the muck here and there, which could then be reworked into something great. But… ugh, perhaps I’m just too lazy to walk the desert to get there.

Then again, laziness is the evolutionary impulse to seek out optimisations, so another way to put it might be that I’m trying to figure out a better way. I have this sort of issue with a lot of my current coding & game design challenges, too. Do I do it the long-winded and brute-force method that will get it done, or do I sit here effectively doing nothing for hours hoping I’ll come up with a better solution? Well… there’s an argument to be made for either approach, to be honest.

Take a recent example: on my current game, I was plagued by a glitch in floor collisions due to how I wanted to build the levels– for maximum modularity and reusability, as multiple meshes. Try as I might, the game-breaking glitch didn’t seem to have an easy solution. I was left with a choice: redo everything the older, more long-winded way (that I knew worked but took a long time to make and adjust); or try to figure out a fix for my system. I probably took twice as long as it would have taken to just redo the damn level, but I developed a system that would make it work the way I originally wanted, dynamically merging all the scenery colliders at the touch of a button. And any future changes can be handled automatically.

The analogy is imperfect, as all analogies inevitably are, because in writing I probably won’t come up with a better way of doing things than the brute-force word-puke. I also happen to still really enjoy and endorse National Novel Writing Month. But I feel like what works for me might not align with the conventional “you only get there by churning out dirge” mantra. I’m always skeptical of anyone claiming “this is the only way to do it”—unless you are talking about argument from rationality or applying the metric system, of course.

The important thing is, I got 250 centiwords out of it, on the way toward a sequel for Cloudgazer. But for now I need to put it aside and focus on my target of finally wrapping up the long-awaited Chronozone Zero by the end of this year!

2 thoughts on “NaNope

  1. I find myself often in a similar situation, spending much longer thinking about the most elegant way rather than just getting it done. “Laziness is the evolutionary impulse to seek out optimisations” is a pretty apt way to put it.

    At least the benefit that comes with it is by learning about the efficient way, you get a little better and more knowledgeable for next time. Like you say, there’s an argument for either approach.

  2. “At least the benefit that comes with it is by learning about the efficient way, you get a little better and more knowledgeable for next time.”

    That’s a good point. Makes me feel better about my propensity for this approach, too…

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