NaNoWriMo––which stands for National Novel Writing Month––is a fabulous opportunity to chip away at a project or two that you’ve been thinking about all year. But it is also, as many writers have discovered, the kind of undertaking that is all-consuming and exhausting. For those of us who have found ourselves unable to participate this year––whether it’s because we didn’t know about NaNoWriMo in the first place, or (as with one of our writing staff) are helping a parent recover from brain surgery, or (as with several friends and relatives) are simply too busy with raising a family or working a 9 to 5 job––it would be nice to know that it’s actually completely acceptable not to participate in this particular yearly event.
So for all of you who feel like you need encouragement or permission to take a break from NaNoWriMo, here it is! I’m encouraging you! I’m giving you permission to do what’s best for you in the here and now, whatever that is!
There are, in fact, some completely legitimate reasons to NOT participate in NaNoWriMo, and if you’re feeling extra pressure this year to join in or catch up and you’re just not ready, just remember that we are often our own greatest critics, and even well-intentioned friends and fellow writers may need the occasional reminder that you will reach your own goals in your own time as you are able.
I really don’t think that we can be our best selves, much less the best writers we can be, without first addressing those underlying issues underlying our reticence, or our struggle to write–head on.
So this November, instead of challenging you to see which excuses you’re coming up with to not participate in NaNoWriMo, I challenge you to try and figure out what is happening to throw you off of your NaNoWriMo game. Once you know the root causes, you have three options, right?
- Do nothing, and let sleeping dogs lie (however uneasily) and run the risk of facing writer’s block indefinitely as a result;
- Deal with them to the fullest extent possible and find a solution that allows you to write (although perhaps not today); and
- Manage them in balance with other major ongoing concerns to an extent that allows you some freedom to write.
Understandably, I’m going to lobby for everyone to manage or solve their excuse-inducing-problems because I want all of you to feel unshackled and fully able to write … but I do understand that you have a life outside of writing. We all do. Sometimes that life is going to intrude upon your process as a writer, and that’s okay. It really is. I mean, come on, 2020 has thrown us all for a loop! Maybe this is not the year to try and hurry yourself into making NaNoWriMo work. And maybe it is. Either way, we’re here for you at SPA to support you in making the best possible decision to fit your own life and needs.
Stay strong. Take care of yourself. Know your own heart. Know your limits. Seize the day … even if you’re seizing it for a very long nap.
You are not alone. ♣︎