I don’t plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. There, I said it. It’s something I’ve been contemplating since the summer, and I know it’s the right thing to do. I’ve written a novel every November since 2013, but not this year. I started 2021 with a lot on my plate but added even more in March, when I ended a nine-month hiatus in my grad school venture, transferring to a new school and plunging back in with both feet. The queen of over-committing myself, I may have signed up for NaNoWriMo without batting an eye in previous years, but not now. Maybe it’s COVID that’s given me a different perspective, but I’m more protective of my time than I’ve ever been—I’ve actually said no to some things, and NaNoWriMo one of them.
The idea of skipping made me feel like a failure at first. I told myself that I would sign up but give myself permission not to write if I couldn’t afford the time. But I know me, and if I sign up for something, I’m going to by-God finish it. And I really can’t say I mind the sacrifice. What I’m doing with my degree connects with my passion for reading and writing: I’m working on a dyslexia certificate as a specialty within Reading Education. This time next year, I should be able to screen kids for dyslexia and devise individualized plans to help them learn to read. There’s not much sadder to me than knowing there are people who struggle to read but would love it if only someone would help them. I want to be that someone.
Another reason I don’t mind taking off this year is that I wrote a ton from early March through June—close to 114,000 words, in fact. It was one of those stories that just blossomed out of nowhere. I wondered why it couldn’t have hit me at a more convenient time—October 31st, say. But it happened in March, and I wrote 55,000 of those nearly 114,000 words during the first 30 days. At the time, I kicked myself because I was worried I wouldn’t have anything left by November. But as I continued with grad school, work, spending time with my family, and life in general, my initial impetus to write waned. I believe things happen for a reason, and it seems that the reason the story came to me eight months prematurely is because I wouldn’t be able to commit to it in November. When the time it right (write?), I’ll take it up again—with no regrets or guilt.
If you’ve read my previous November posts, you know that I have really struggled with NaNoWriMo the past few years. One year, I actually re-started my previous year’s novel from a different angle, hoping to break through the writer’s block that had kept me from finishing the book the first time. Maybe taking a year off—writing when I have the itch and not on a schedule—is what I need in this chapter of my life. I don’t say this to deter potential WriMos, but I do hope that those of you who struggle with the November-only commitment will feel relieved that you’re not alone. Life happens. Sometimes you can spin out 50,000 words in November; sometimes you can’t. For those of you who need to pause, you’re in good company. And for those of you who do participate, I wish you well.
Want to sign up for NaNoWriMo? Here’s the link: https://nanowrimo.org