On failing NaNoWriMo

I’d be lying if I thought I’d have to make this post. In fact, just about a month ago, I made a post saying I was feeling pretty confident about this year’s National Novel Writing Month.

That turned out to be hubris. I had a run of 10 years of finishing NaNoWriMo, sometimes by the skin of my teeth, but for the past few years, quite comfortably. So for all that KRH is very busy and distracting, I didn’t think there was anything that could stop me from winning.

I was wrong. The whole family got the flu, one that kept me off my feet for almost 10 days. Then KRH got conjunctivitis, three times. His latest ailment, that we’re just now getting over, was a lung infection. One of the things that’s caught me off guard is just how much the sickness of a child made me fearful and worried, even when the illnesses were minor.

We’re still working through all this, but it actually didn’t take me long into November to decide that this year simply wasn’t going to happen. I made that decision based on a cool calculus, because the draft I was writing was just a fun project that had no deadline, sandwiched between two important projects, one in October (which I hadn’t quite completed) and returning to my next project in December.  It was relatively easy, then, to decide not to worry overly about NaNoWriMo because I’d proven to myself I could do it, and move on.

It was actually more difficult than I thought to give up the month. NaNoWriMo isn’t exactly central to my identity as a writer because really November is just another month in my writing schedule, but NaNo taught me a lot about how to get butt in chair and finger to keyboard in the pursuit of completion. It’s also often the one month of the year I allow myself to write a fun first draft, and I spent the month seeing my writing friends and doing events (or I used to. With KRH this proved to be different). The long and short of it is, while giving up on NaNo made a lot of sense, it was hard in that it’s always something that I look forward to and this year I basically didn’t get to participate. If anything, it left me feeling a bit discouraged.

That doesn’t mean that I made the wrong choice. No one month can make or break my writing career, especially not my 10th NaNoWriMo. So in the end, I just have to  do exactly what I learned from NaNo in the first place, which is to get my butt in my chair and put my fingers to my keyboard.

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