Perhaps NaNoWriMo and I should Break Up.

I’ve written a lot of blog posts about NaNoWriMo. So many, in fact, that it’s a little embarrassing that it took me until now to come to the realization I’m coming to… but, before I get to that, here are the old posts if you want to go back through and examine my journey:

It’s worth noting that even if/when I don’t have NaNoWriMo-themed blog posts, I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo a lot. Since before I met my husband, and we started dating 15 years ago.

This year, I decided I was going to be a weird sort of super rebel and continue writing my novel (the one I started during NaNoWriMo in 2018) AND write something new. It started as another novel, and then I declared on social media I was going to turn it into a screenplay! I had 764 words on November 3…

…and I have not written a single word since then. Not on my novel. Not on the new rebel screenplay project. Heck, I barely responded to the prompts in my Facebook writing community group — AND I’M THE ONE WRITING THE PROMPTS. (I just looked back, because I had to know: of the 16 prompts I wrote for my group in November, I answered nine of them. Over half of those were six word stories).

In that community, we were doing NaNoWriMo check-ins on Mondays. On the last one, I mentioned that I thought it might be time for me and NaNoWriMo to break up. A dear friend posted encouragement for me to not think like that, and I replied:

This is the tenth year in a row I’ve tried and failed. When I try to force myself to write under fictitious pressure, it’s bad. It’s not fun. Writing should be hard work, but it should still be joyful.

And that, truly, is the crux of the matter. NaNoWriMo isn’t joyful for me. I don’t want to hate my work because it felt forced. As a student, deadlines were a good thing for me. If I was given all the time in the world, I never would’ve gotten all of my work done. But this…I can’t figure out the right way to explain it, but this feels very different. The more deadlines I try to set, the less work I do. When I adopt a “this will get done when it’s the right time. As long as I’m writing, everything is okay” attitude, I churn out thousands of words. When I say, “Hey, I’ll send you a draft by November 1,” I write nothing.

I don’t know what this means other than I’m going to quit trying to box myself in, and I’m going to break up with NaNoWriMo for a while. Maybe we’ll get back together next year, but I’m not counting on it. I think we need some time apart so I can really learn/grow/figure out who I am as a writer separate from NaNoWriMo.

And as I write that, for the first time in months, I actually feel like picking up and working on my novel draft. Which, to me, says this is the right decision.