So it's November...a month for writers everywhere to jump on the bandwagon that is 'NaNoWriMo', National Write A Novel Month - cranking out a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.
Sorry I can't muster much more enthusiasm than that for this yearly project. I just feel it's a huge amount of pressure at a time of year when I have tons of things already going on and not enough time to do them all. Try to throw in a 50,000 word manuscript onto my plate and I want to run and hide in the closet with a bag of Doritos!
I have no excuses. There are tons of successful writers who set similar goals for themselves all year long and crank out multiple titles a year that sell very well. If they can do it all year long as their job, I certainly could do it once a year as a hobby. Right?
Then I look into some of these prolific writers and see that their kids aren't still 3 years old and getting up in the night, upset that they dreamed they couldn't find the book that's right next to them. (At least my sweetie is dreaming about books!) They don't have a full time day job completely opposite of their writing. Some aren't even in my same age bracket. (29, haha)
Yet, is that enough of an excuse? Can I just brush off the challenge of NaNoWriMo because I'm a full-time working mom with a toddler and husband and home, etc, etc? Isn't that just a bunch of...whining?
Maybe, but I've come to a point this year, both as a person and as an author, where I have decided that just because I don't get in on this whole NaNoWriMo thing doesn't mean I'm less of a writer or that I'm lazy. I've been more conscious of the competition I put myself in when I compare myself to other authors - and I've made the effort to stop it. What good is it doing to beat myself up comparing myself to those who are in a completely different boat than I'm in?
If you wish you could participate but don't feel you'd be able to muster the mental energy, join me in celebrating #NaNoWriNoMo [National NOT Writing A Novel Month] and accepting that you're doing the best you can and that your manuscript will finish in it's own perfect time and that's OKAY. Some of us are dealing with levels of drama and stress this time of year that can't compare with my schedule. Some of you might even be trying to handle illness or personal loss that is off the charts. Although some might suggest that NaNoWriMo would take your mind off those issues, I'd say don't push yourself into it.
Trying to keep up with all those FB posts of how many words everyone got down every day can be utterly overwhelming. Watching yourself write your characters into a corner halfway through the month, knowing you'll have to start over can make you want to chuck that tablet at the window. It can set back your enthusiasm for writing longer than just this one month. And your characters need you to help tell their story from a place of motivation and excitement, not stress and frustration!
So for those who insist that a strict writing schedule is a surefire way to keep on track in cranking out novels, I agree. Yet, this month, with Thanksgiving coming, Black Friday to consider, family get togethers, winter approaching, the election... do yourself a favor and be gentle with yourself and with your writing this month. Be forgiving if you don't write this week. Be understanding if you don't get further than a paragraph a day. Give yourself permission - it's a great gift that will allow your characters to shine from more authentic writing.
Yes, be up for a challenge, but do it on your terms.
Forget the NaNoWriMo hype.