There will come a time for all of us when things just aren’t right for us. For those of you that don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month,or NaNoWriMo (although how can you NOT know if you’ve been following this blog??). I am a huge fan of NaNoWriMo, don’t get me wrong. But there’s been a question, a niggling doubt just sitting in the back of my head. It’s been haunting me for weeks, winding itself through my brain like a parasite:
Is NaNoWriMo right for me?
My first response, as it has been for the past three years, is of course it is! For the first time in nearly three years, I have the chance to work on a completely new project than the one I had before. For the first time in three years, I’m not bound by a duty to finishing my current novel. This November can be a period of exploration for me: a trial run. Can I write this novel? Is this novel right for me? Do I enjoy the characters?
But as each year of school progresses, it becomes gradually harder to write the demanding 2,000 words a day. Last year, I went writing-crazy the week of Thanksgiving break, pushing myself harder than ever before to get 5,000 words a day on the page. But I can’t afford to do that this year.
At the end of summer back in August, I told myself what those three days of wondrous Thanksgiving Break are for: they are for revising my novel. I love the world of The CyberWorld. It won’t be a New York Times Bestseller. Not everyone will like Breeze. She’s a hard girl to like. If you met her in real life, you’d probably want to avoid her. But I wrote that novel for myself. I poured my heart and my soul and worked my fingers off and gave myself carpel tunnel for three years over that novel. And that, to me, is very important. So if it means that NaNoWriMo has to go in order for me to edit my beloved novel, NaNoWriMo will go.
Which brings me to a crossroads. I have never skipped NaNoWriMo, not one year, not one Camp session, since I joined the YWP Program for the first time back in 2011. I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to spare the extra hour or two at night to write 2,000 words each day. I’d sleep at midnight on good days and three AM on not-so-good-days.
Maybe NaNoWriMo is no longer right for me.
I love writing. I really do. But during NaNoWriMo each year, it becomes a slog. Halfway through the month, usually around week two, I find myself lagging. Dragging myself through that novel that I have to get done. All that I really want, at that halfway mark, and sometimes for the rest of the month, is the shiny winner’s web badge that I can get if I write 50,000 words. Sometimes, NaNoWriMo has made me not want to write at all. Sometimes, when I get to that halfway mark, that halfway point, I’m not writing for myself any more. I’m writing for my reputation: “The teenage girl who wrote 50,000 words in a month. Not once. Not twice. But four times!”
And writing shouldn’t be for that. Sure, if I hadn’t written for my reputation, I wouldn’t have my completed, yet-to-be-fully-edited novel with me right here, right now. But in a world that’s full of misery and homework and endless testing and examinations, writing and reading are some of the only things I do in my free time, for myself.
Do I want to write for my reputation, and finish a novel? Or do I want to write for myself, and maybe put that novel off for another year, maybe two?
It’s a tough decision to make.
So, my fine, lovely fellow (or maybe no-longer-fellow) WriMos, I give you my verdict: I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year.
“What?” you say. “But you just told us you wouldn’t be able to write… you said you wanted to write for yourself, not for your reputation. So… why exactly do you want to do NaNoWriMo??”
No, I probably will not be able to write the whole, 50,000-word spiel. I will probably clock in at 11:59 PM on November 30th with around 20,000 words. If I’m lucky. But I can’t imagine not doing NaNoWriMo. That sense of community, the wonderful people I get to interact with every day of November, wouldn’t exist without NaNoWriMo. I think, more than anything, that has kept me going. Because, you know, I did end up finishing The CyberWorld after all. And I don’t hate it. I’m not repulsed completely by it. In fact, I love it. I love what I was able to do, what I learned that I, a teenage girl, can achieve. (Plus, I need some motivation to edit my entire, 150-page manuscript by the end of November. 😛 )
Maybe, just maybe, I can make NaNoWriMo right for me again.
The title of this post was originally “Is NaNoWriMo Right For You?” But then, just before I hit the “publish” button, I realized: I can’t tell you if NaNoWriMo is right for you. You can’t tell me if NaNoWriMo is right for me. Sure, you can suggest things to me, you can offer me tips and advice as a fellow WriMo. But you can’t do the deciding for me. Only I can.
So, what do you say? Have you wondered about asking yourself, “Is NaNoWriMo right for ME?”