Why I quit NaNoWriMo already

This blog has gotten quite dusty in the last few months. I could tell you that I’ve been busy, that I am focusing on other writing, blah blah blah. Truth is, I don’t have a really good excuse.

When I started this blog, at the beginning of the year, I was lonely, directionless, and not in a good space. I’d break down on the bus crying or would bother my friends for hours seeking reassurance that I would be OK because I wasn’t sure I would be. Then, around April/May,  I started making some hard decisions and clearing my life of things that were no longer serving me. That makes it sound like I became a kiss-ass version of myself and all of my problems melted away, but it was less inspiring than that. Small shifts here and there started to add up and by July I was the happiest I’ve been in a really long time. I am still riding that wave.

My writing, though, that’s another story. It’s like the ache you feel in your knee that you ignore until you no longer can. I would often tell myself that I needed to write but wouldn’t. I’d find something else to do or give into my fears. I put it off for so long that even when I sat down to write something at work I would obsess over each phrase, believing it was terrible and I have no right to ever call myself a writer.

Successes in other parts of my life – training for a marathon, taking a storytelling class – were enough to quite the voice in my head.

At the end of last month, I started to look at how 2015 has unfolded and was really pleased with the things I’ve been able to do and accomplish. For a second I thought that I could coast on into the next year, spending the last few months binging on Christmas movies and holiday treats, but then the voice that I’ve ignored for months was able to be heard again.

Write. I needed to write.

It was nearly November and I thought that I could do National Novel Writing Month. I completed this while I was in Lesotho and look back to it as a good experience. I came up with an idea, and like my first attempt it is loosely autobiographical. It was a last minute decision on Sunday, November 1, but I ended the day at 1,700 words.

Then next morning, at 5:30 a.m., I pounded out more words with the same kind of excitement to be writing and thinking again.

However, the motivation quickly died. It could have been the daily word goal, the early wake up calls or the unthought out idea, but within days I dreaded the moment my alarm went off and I would have to write. Just like when I was training for the marathon, it would always get better as I actually did it but I never felt super proud of what I was doing. It had become a chore.

On Tuesday I got up an hour earlier and I did write but not for NaNoWriMo. Instead I wrote what I was feeling in my heart and then I started my day feeling accomplished and knowing the little nagging writing voice inside of me was satisfied. Today, I did the same but worked on editing and rewriting a piece I submitted for publication. Again, I felt happy and complete.

While I think my original idea for this NaNoWriMo does deserve some exploring, I think I am going to quit this venture 11 days into November. Part of me feels ashamed and that I am being lazy, another part a bit relieved that I don’t have arbitrary goals that I need to sacrifice for.

That doesn’t mean I am going to stop writing. Earlier this year, I began writing essays for a book that I hope to finish earlier next year and I am going to direct my attention to that. It’s the story in my heart that I absolutely feel that I need to tell for me, not for anyone else. And so that’s what I am going to do because, as Elizabeth Gilbert says, this thing wants to be made as much as I want to make it.

I am glad I started this journey because it got me writing again, and maybe that’s all I needed and not to write a book my heart wasn’t super into. What I learned from my turnaround earlier this year that it is OK if I don’t do everything and that sometimes I quit and disappoint. I can only serve and be good to others if I am being good to me. For me, at this moment, that means writing the book I am supposed to write and doing so on my terms.

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