Despite NaNoWriMo not officially ending for a few more days, I know I’m not going to win it this year. With three days left to write (at the time of writing this post), I am sitting at a nice 16,000 words and I don’t think I’ll add too many more before December hits.
I mean, that’s still 16,000 more than I had when I first started this venture on November 1st. And I didn’t set out to write 50,000 this month, though that would be nice. I set out to see if I could truly write every single day for a month. It’s something I’ve never done before.
And, having done it this month (up to today’s date, of course, but I’ll write to keep the streak alive), I don’t think I’ll ever attempt it again.
I mean, I definitely hope to do NaNo again, at some point. But I don’t thinking writing every day is a good routine for me.
I started to focus more on just getting words down so I didn’t break my streak. I found myself stressing over whether I would have time to write or not, especially during a busy day, usually during the weekend; combating feelings of being a failure for not accomplishing such a simple goal. That’s why, looking at my graph, there are multiple days where my word count was 50 words for that day.
Sometimes, it was even less than 10.
But still, I didn’t break my streak.
But I also realized I wasn’t having a very good time with it. It ultimately led me to resenting this story a little bit and making me not care about the words I’m writing, only that I’ve written, regardless of what is going on in my life or how I’m feeling.
Perhaps it’s because this is the first first draft I’ve written in over two years. Perhaps it’s because I’m still stuck in editing mode and focused too much on the business aspects of the book–it’s marketability, it’s appeal to agents, it’s success with future readers–to enjoy writing a story still so new in narrative, still discovering itself and what shape it will even be, by the end. Perhaps it’s because I was so focused on a numbered goal that I forgot to fall in love with writing a new story from scratch.
Personally, I know it’s a mixture of all three things and more.
I plan to continue writing and working on this story into December. Prolly into January, too. When I was at my best writing schedule (one I would love to get back to), I could usually write a first draft in three months, so I wouldn’t mind doing that with this novel. But more than that, I think I want to focus on building a writing habit again, rather than focusing on input; a habit that isn’t centered on streaks, but has built in understanding and empathy for myself as I try to write a new story–especially at the prime of the holiday season. I want to stop focusing on trying to become published and instead, continue to focus on writing stories that resonate with me and that I fall in love with; stories that make me look forward to my day’s writing session.
I want to fall in love with writing again.
You might be wondering right now, Nicole, your post is titled, “Today, I’m thankful for writing.” Yet all you’ve done is bitch about how difficult this novel has been and how you failed at NaNoWriMo and didn’t you just get another rejection in your email inbox for the novel you were sure was going to make it in the traditional market? Kinda misleading, this title.”
But that’s the thing: I am thankful for writing, even when I struggle with it and I have to fight to get ten words on the page. I’m thankful when I finish a new novel and when I don’t write for a month. I’m thankful when I fall in love with my characters and when I second guess if I ever should have started writing in the first place. I’m thankful to watch my skills improve and my storytelling prowess grow, just like I’m thankful when I believe I’ll never be published because my writing is shit and imposter syndrome is real.
Writing–and being a writer–isn’t always going to be a positive experience. It isn’t always going to be all good, just like it isn’t all bad. But even through the bad, I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for this passion, for the stories I come up with and what I’m able to create. I’m thankful for the time to write them, even if I have to fight for it. I’m thankful for the support system I have, through my family, friends, boyfriend and online, who believes in me when I can’t believe in myself, even if not everyone has. I’m thankful that I’ll always have the chance to try again with a new story and I’ll never run out of ideas to tell. I’m thankful for all the other writers who are struggling, those who have made it, those who publish the stories that I love and give me hope I can do the same, one day. I’m thankful for those who work behind the scenes, those at publishing houses who make dreams a reality, those fighting within the community to make publishing more diverse and inclusive, as it should have always been. I’m thankful for the self-publishing world and traditional both. I’m thankful for bloggers who remind me why I love both writing and reading, and libraries who help me read books I otherwise couldn’t. I’m thankful for my parents who help fill my tiny personal library every holiday and my boyfriend who lets me keep the light on until 3am on my side of the bed to finish that last chapter.
Right now, I’m struggling to write and fighting to get my groove back.
But right now, I’m also thankful to be a writer.
Because there is nothing else I’d rather be.