Dr. Self-Love or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Abandon NaNoWriMo


So, NaNoWriMo is the pinnacle I’ve tried to hit since I heard of it. That was like in, I don’t know, 2011? It wasn’t part of my writing expectations and I never took it too seriously until it became a habit. At the time, I thought that in order to be a real writer, I had to finish NaNo. Which is and isn’t weird because some of my favorite authors can finish a book in a month or don’t feel like they have to since they have so many other projects. But 50-thousand words in 30 days; how bad could it really be?

Well, I’ve never “won”!

I kept failing at it. Then, they added another month called Camp NaNo, then another. Both were meant to be less pressure with flexible guidelines. Even then I still didn’t get it done and god knows I tried. I would feel that weird sting of failure. It didn’t make sense to me. Realistically, I didn’t give two fucks and a Pop Tart about NaNoWriMo and I’d complete higher wordcounts in a manner of weeks before NaNo ever came into my life. Yet here, I was feeling a sense of dread every April, every July, and every November. Because if I opted out, I’d feel like I wasn’t taking what I was doing seriously. Seeing everyone doing it would make me feel like I’m lazy. So, I would opt in.

Doing it this year though? Tailoring it to one of the projects I’ve been excited for since Camp NaNo July, I realized what exactly the problem was.

NaNoWriMo is poison to me.

Let me explain before you pull out the pitchforks.

Look at dat shit? Who can Write with that?!

When I announced I was doing it, it was with dread, anxiety, and the set expectation that I would not finish it because what the hell is so different about this time as opposed to last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.

Well this year as of writing this, I have won NaNoWriMo. I announced I was doing Nano, but I opened the site all of twice and I only just counted my more recent progress December 1st. That’s not even including the 289,000 words I completed between June and September when I tracked my progress, just to see what my deal was. Like legit, I was that pressed about not being able to do 50k in a month. Well, turns out I can, and I do it OFTEN… almost every month.

The problem with NaNo is that there is a self-imposed sense of stress that isn’t conducive to creativity or to completion. Keeping life together while trying to achieve my life goals became more than just my daily grind. Every April, July, and November, it became work and, even worse, failure.

Many use Nano as an excuse get on their writing and on their grind. The problem I have with this is that I don’t need an “excuse” to get stuff done. I get these things done from the time I wake up to the time I go to work and even some more when I get home. I push hard every day and, to be honest, NaNoWriMo holds me back by adding to my many failures. I kept repeating it until finally, this year, I grasped the insanity of it. I don’t need it and I never did. Wish I’d realized that sooner.

If I need an excuse to get something done, then obviously, I didn’t want to do it to begin with. That is my attitude about most things, but especially writing. While busting my ass, I can firmly acknowledge that I don’t have time to entertain anything else. So, while knowing I was in the trenches with everyone else was reassuring, I already got my discharge papers. I’m out.

With that, no more NaNoWriMo. Never again. I’ll continue to support my babies who are still getting in those words during it, still using it to build your habits, still using it to get your jump start. I’m cheerleading. I’m going to keep cheering. Hopefully, you get to the point where you don’t need Nano anymore. That you no longer have time for it because you’re working at your fullest potential.

Tell me in the comments why you feel you need or don’t need NaNoWriMo and your experiences with it.

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Stay Well-Read

Harli V. Park

For More Ruminations – Tentacle Files

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