Today is very bittersweet for me. November 30 marks the end to NaNoWriMo, a challenge taken on by the most determined and amazing group of writers I have ever met. NaNo has come to mean so much to me in the last five years. But this year, this year I just couldn’t.
School has been kicking my butt this semester and I started falling behind early on due to mental struggles and emotional plight. I’ve been dealing a lot with things that are going on inside of myself that I am struggling to find the words for. I so wanted to jump into NaNo – even part-time! – to get back into the groove of writing and finding ways to express what was going on.
But some days, even making it to class was an accomplishment. I have been more exhausted these last months than I can ever remember. I am tired of being so different that people don’t really know how to help me.
But still I know that I must continue to do things as only I can, or my life gets voided. If I become like the masses, I cease to matter. One big grey blob of similarity and blending in will never be beautiful.
What is beautiful are those who walk their own way. Those who color themselves differently. Those like who I have met because of my years doing NaNo.
I have been so inspired by those I have had the pleasure of writing alongside and those I have learned from. I cherish each and every writer, study partner, accountability partner, and encouraging friend who has ever shared in my journey as I wrote through my novels.
Today, I want to celebrate my fellow writers. Their victories, whether by hitting the 50,000 word mark or just creating a character they love or a perfect scene to be used later. You are my inspiration and though I missed out this year, I will be back with a vengeance next year.
On December first, the NANoWriMo community rejoices in their victories or simply that NaNo is over. We party to celebrate calling them the “thank goodness it’s over” parties – or now that we don’t need all those extra words we shorten it to TGIO party. But on December first, I sit around being sad. I’ve won the last three years now so what’s there to be sad about?
November is my most successful month. I write daily and spend time with the characters I’ve been creating since mid summer and finally get to see all that world building trampled upon in the quest for whatever I set my characters after.
What’s better is the NaNo community that thrives in November. Sure the forums stay open and some writing groups stay active throughout the year. But NaNo is more than just writers doing what they do. NaNo has over 400,000 people working toward the same crazy goal! We are all trying to achieve the same thing and fight those same urges to just give up. We support each other even in our little competitions to be the best. One minute we’re giving someone a hard time for being at the halfway mark extra early on in the month and the next we’re celebrating with her for crossing it and tossing her candy. (Yes, this actually happened at one of my write ins this year.)
But the community is great! There’s even a traveling shovel of death that unites all the stories that hear of it! (Read it, if you dare!) But seriously, the NaNo community cannot be beat. We have the support of bookstores, libraries, and coffee shops who open their doors to those of us insane enough to take on this challenge.
And we have to be insane to do this. Our family and responsibilities get neglected throughout November because we’re so focused on this major project. But when we come together at write ins or on the forums and see everyone else adding little bits to their progress bar, it’s infectious! How can we not keep at this challenge when so many others are doing this writing thing with us.
The rest of the year, we may have cheerleaders and even some writing friends that work with us. But only during NANo do we have so many writers, in so many places going after the same goal. NaNo reminds me that I’m not the only crazy one out there giving my heart to people that I’ve created. NaNo reminds me that people do actually write for a living and make their passion into their career. But mostly, NaNo reminds me that I can accomplish something that I set my heart and mind to.
So yeah, as December sets in, I’m sad. NaNo is over and I’ll definitely be counting the days until the frenzy begins again. But hey, I can at least occupy that time with editing this mess I wrote in November. I never said the first draft had to be any good.
As NaNoWriMo draws closer to beginning, my focus on writing grows stronger. And of course my excitement and planning is heightened. But with school going on and hopefully taking on an extra job soon, time management can be a problem. If you’re doing NaNo this will probably be your number one hurdle to jump day after day as you fight your word count. NaNo bloggers all around will tell you to keep track of your word count, to have some accountability with your fellow writers or even just the people around you who know what you’re setting out to do.
I’m here to tell you to take that accountability a step further. Make sure people know how you’re feeling. Let people know when you’re excited so they can be excited with you. But also let them know when you skipped sleeping last night to knock out some extra words. Let them know when you’re writing something hard and possibly personal or trigger worthy. We draw from our experiences and it can hurt to write about something that is still hurting us. Let them know that this novel is kicking your butt and completely overwhelming you. Because if you don’t tell someone, you’re the only one dealing with it. And that’s hard during any time period and you’re about to embark on an adventure.
This year, I’ll be writing about some tough stuff again because it’s therapeutic for me. I’ll be bringing up themes surrounding my grandfather’s death and what his life still means to me. I’ll also be featuring abandonment because I’ve recently separated from my husband and I haven’t fully come to terms with it. My writing is personal but I’m not doing it alone. My family and friends will be there along side me and just a phone call away should I need them. At the same time, I’ll be staying central to my favorite genre and writing a story I’ve currently dubbed “Fantasy Saves the World” because it continually saves mine.
And be nice to yourself this November. Pump your caffeine but don’t overdose. Make sure you’re eating and getting enough sleep for your non-writing duties as well. And I’ll be here too and you can help keep me accountable as well. We’re in this together and win or lose, we are embarking on a great adventure that not everyone can even try.