Over the past few years, October has been a bittersweet month. Either I have been extremely excited to do NaNoWriMo but have had something else on, such as a mentally-exhausting full-time job, or I’ve been totally dreading NaNoWriMo and have prepared to break my participation streak.
But for the past few years, rain or shine, I have won NaNoWriMo. Over the past 3 years, despite my doubts, I have hit the 50k.
So what’s the problem, really?
This year, I’m back at university completing my MA in Creative Writing, and the very idea of doing NaNoWriMo on top of everything else sickened me all the way until the last week in October. I didn’t want to add extra pressure to something that I was already finding challenging, and I didn’t want any projects I started in November to take time away from the projects I felt really mattered (ie, the writing I wanted to take my time with and polish ready for my assignment submissions and final dissertation). Up until that last week, I was sure I wasn’t going to participate at all.
But then I realised, a couple of days before November, that the idea of not participating was, to put it simply, making me sad.
On October 31st I created my “novel” on the website and declared myself a NaNoWriMo participant. I had no plan, no ideas, and three assignments to think about.
And yet, somehow, I’m sitting here with two-days’ success under my belt.
It’s fantastic. It’s fun. It’s difficult. I have struggled through two days of minimal inspiration, impatience, kitty interruptions and chocolate cravings. It’s a challenge that I’m actually really proud to say I still find challenging. Sure, it’s far too well-known now, and there are so many people doing it that it almost feels more surprising to hear someone say they aren’t participating. But, honestly, it is such an important thing. And I’m so happy to be doing it again.
This year, I’m rebelling to the max. Rather than taking thinking time away from the projects I’m completing for my course and in my own time, I have decided not to write a novel during November. Instead, I am writing short stories and flash fiction every day, with the aim of practicing my writing and having a portfolio of first drafts for whenever I finish participating. It is arguably a lot harder than just working on one project, of course, but at the same time I’m finding the challenge of coming up with new ideas every day to be more beneficial than simply seeing one project through to the end. Okay, I’m only on Day 2, and have only written 3 stories so far. But, I’m telling you. Even if these 3 stories are all I achieve, I’m going to sleep happy tonight.
I don’t know how long I’ll keep this up, or whether I’ll hit the 50k. But, considering I wasn’t even going to try to do this this year, everything I write during November is more than I’d written before November. Which. Is. Awesome.
Are you doing NaNo? How’s it going?