It’s December, let’s stretch out our fingers and take a walk- NaNoWriMo is over. It was fun to see my comrades posting their NaNo Winner pictures. I’m proud of the work accomplished this month, and that I got to be a part of a creative venture bigger than myself.
I did not get my Winner picture. I missed my goal by a whopping 20,000 words.
About halfway through I began to struggle. You can see it in my stats.
There wasn’t a shortage of ideas or a gaping plot hole to be fixed, and I technically met all the goals of NaNo that I talk about HERE.
Nope, the distance between my word count and the goal had more to do with the grumpy voices in my head that fight to bring me down. This problem is not unique to me- I bet everyone in NaNoWriMo experienced the same thing, and a lot of them prevailed. But I listened.
Those voices say awful, ugly things.
They told me I wasn’t nearly good enough to sacrifice time away from my children and home; this was just a hobby and I should start treating it as such; that only 0.02% of the 500,000 people who participated in NaNo ever became published.
One particularly difficult night I had already put the toddlers down and was rocking the baby to sleep, and I felt so tired. I had only accomplished the very basics of my day- dishes, laundry, feeding hungry bellies, changing diapers- how was I so bone achingly tired? I had set my computer up so it would be ready for writing, but now I could hardly look at it.
“This is a job,” I whined to my husband, “writing was supposed to be something I did to relax and it’s becoming a job. I already have one of those!” I wanted him to tell me when my time to relax was going to come, or to wait till the kids were all potty trained, or in school or married. I wanted him to tell me to take up knitting- no one expected anything from knitters. I wanted him to make the decision that I kept avoiding.
And, in his overly simplistic way, he reminded me, “You just need to decide if you want this.”
It never feels like it helps in the moment, but his words always stick with me.
I found myself asking “Do I want this?” when I sat down, bone-achingly tired, to write.
I asked it again when I decided I was going to binge watch Stranger Things 2 instead of write. “Do I want this?”
Three days before the end of the month I decided to give it one final sprint to the end. I wrote 8,000 words that day all while the toddlers fought to sit on my lap, got into my lipstick, and I fed, burped and exercised baby. “Do I want this?”
In November, I didn’t. If I had wanted it bad enough I would have finished. But I discovered some things:
Fence sitters are not vulnerable. Fence sitters are safe.
I don’t want this to be “just a hobby” but I am too scared to take myself seriously. That conflict is getting in the way of my whole goal- I want to take myself seriously- so it's time to get off the fence.
Either way is a sacrifice
The small amount of “me time” I have or that warm feeling I get when I am creating something.
I love my writing group.
Not writing would mean giving them up, too. I’ve tried that before and I always come back. I always feel recharged after exchanging ideas and critiques with them.
I’m still fully in love with this story.
I want to explore it, I want to write it.
A few things need to change. 8,000 words in a day are too much. 1,000 words are doable. Also, the night is a terrible writing time. Surprisingly enough, I love the mornings, so I’ll try writing before the kids wake up. Last but not least, there can’t be any room for those voices. They make my thoughts murky and steal my joy. From this point on, I’m going to fight them. When they rear their stinky little heads, I’m going to tell them- “I am comfortable with being uncomfortable. There’s no room for you here.”
My fellow writers- how was your NaNo experience? What did you learn about yourself? What do you need to change? And how do you keep the voices at bay?