In a lot of ways, I love NaNoWriMo. For the random person who might come to my blog (I think all my regulars are at least familiar, if not actual participants), that’s National Novel Writing Month, which has occurred every November since 1999. The idea is that the organizers encourage all writers who have dreams of writing a novel to go for it, writing a 50,000+ word story in a single month. In many ways, it’s a great idea. It encourages the whole concept of “Don’t think, edit, or worry. Just write! There’ll be plenty of time to do that other stuff once you get it done.” It also makes the writing process a community-supported event. I’ve watched several people encourage each other, keeping up the excitement and — most importantly — keeping the ink flowing or the keys clicking. It’s a great idea and a lot of people benefit from it.
My own experiences with NaNo — and I’ve tried twice — are different. For me personally, NaNo is a source of stress, insecurity and guilt. I look at the goal of Nano, and I immediately start trembling at the thought of trying to write an average of 1,667 words every day for thirty consecutive days. I just don’t work that way. No matter how pumped I might start out the process, it starts to feel like a challenge and a chore, usually before the second week is over. That just further crushes my creativity. So most years — including this year — I don’t bother trying.
Of course, that leads to feelings of guilt and insecurity. Again, I see all my friends pushing along and getting all excited, and there’s the small part of me that starts in on the self-judgement. “Why aren’t I doing this? Why can’t I do it? Hell, why am I not even willing to try?”
This year, I’m saying to hell with all that. I have tried. It didn’t work for me. I’m choosing to believe that that’s okay. If my creative processes need a more leisurely schedule than what NaNo requires, that’s perfectly okay. After all, if there’s one thing I’ve learned growing up a straight-acting fundie boy only to become hedonistic Pagan flamer, it’s that it’s okay to be different and honor the fact that I’m different.
So to all my friends who are participating in NaNo, I say good luck. I look forward to hearing about your progress and will gladly celebrate your success at the end of the month. But as for me, my path is different. And I’m finally getting to the point where I’m okay with that.