For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November, with the goal of inducing authors to produce a 50,000-word novel (from scratch) in thirty days. While I agree with NaNo’s underlying idea of promoting writing and authorship, I will not be participating this year. Why? Neil Gaiman told me not to.

Specifically, I’m referring to Neil’s advice in the Guardian newspaper. “Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.” Neil advises. I have tremendous esteem for Neil Gaiman. He’s very much the kind of writer I want to be: not bound by genre or format, writing comic books, screenplays, novels, poetry, etc. His admonishment speaks directly to one of my greatest struggles as a writer. I have close to a dozen works-in-progress, all in various stages of completion. But none are complete.

Several months ago, I resolved (based on Neil’s advice) to finish a project I’ve been working on for years. It’s a gaming project, so it’s not writing in the strictest sense, but I chose it as my first “finish at all costs” project because I think the gaming community will enjoy it. It will be free to the world once I’m done. The first part of the project will be available by year’s end.

With my full-time work schedule, brutal commute, full college course load, and a family, any time I would dedicate to NaNoWriMo would have to come out of the meagre time I’m spending on this gaming project. I’m not prepared to make that sacrifice. I’ve committed to finishing Phase One of Super-Secret Gaming Project A by the end of 2010. It will happen. In order to make it happen, I must stay focused. So no NaNo.

I don’t begrudge any of my writerly friends who are participating; quite the contrary, I wish you all the best of luck. I won’t be joining you, because Neil Gaiman told me not to.