October NaNoWriMo Planning: A Sudden Change Of Plans

Last night I made a decision: I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo. In a few days’ time, thousands of writers around the world will begin their stories, but I won’t be among them. I wish I could be. I really do. This was meant to be my year, after all – the year I resumed NaNoing after a break from it my freshman year in college, after which I would return refreshed, stronger than ever, and ready to kick some serious writing ass. The year I wrote my best novel yet.

Well, that didn’t happen. And I’m doing my best to be OK with it.

I have been incredibly busy this year. I’m taking seventeen hours of classes this semester and I spend many more studying, doing homework, and working on projects. As if I’m not already anxious enough, all that work has made me even more stressed. I’ve barely had any free time, and when I have had it I’ve been too tired to plan out my novel. So I don’t have any character notes or plot outlines or anything.

From the very beginning of this planning stage, I knew I would need extensive notes if I were to pull this thing off. It turns out that I don’t have them, and I’m trying not to beat myself up about that.

I was so, so excited to do NaNo this year. I looked forward to special write-ins held by the Iowa Writers’ House, as well as events organized by the Iowa City NaNoWriMo group.

But I’m just too busy. And just too stressed.

To put it simply, my mental health has really taken a nosedive lately, and the last thing I needed was another commitment.

I will probably recycle this year’s idea for NaNo in 2017, if I even do it that year. I’m starting to think that NaNoWriMo and college are two things that should not be mixed, at least in my case.

I’ve been thinking about self care a lot lately and am trying to make it one of the central focuses in my life. I’m trying to view myself less harshly. I’m trying to take better care of myself, which includes consistently getting enough sleep.

And, to be honest, I think choosing not to do NaNo is a form of self care as well. I knew that if I tried to write a novel in a month I would become overwhelmed.

Challenges are good. Challenges are healthy. But doing NaNo this year wouldn’t be a challenge: It would go so much further than that and become overwhelming.

So instead of writing a novel next month, I will take care of myself instead. This involves such things as getting enough sleep, relaxing with books, focusing on my schoolwork and grades, and most of all feeling glad about not having to fret over my wordcount.

I wish the best of luck to any and all NaNoWriMo participants this year! Get out there and kick butt. Get out there and write the novel that I wish I could write this year, but am too busy and stressed to actually create. And I’ll live vicariously (novelishly?) through you.

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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9 Responses to October NaNoWriMo Planning: A Sudden Change Of Plans

  1. Miriam Joy says:

    I feel you on this. I’ve been second-guessing my decision to take part too, but I haven’t had the guts to back out of it. It wouldn’t feel right not to do NaNo when I’ve done it every year since I was thirteen! And the actual wordcount has never been a challenge for me — it’s motivating myself to write full stop that’s the issue. (Once I start, I’m fine, but finding the time and brainpower to start is easier said than done.) As for plot… yeah, the only reason I haven’t backed out already is that this year’s story is a fluffy, humorous story that doesn’t require much, if any, research. But it’s about uni students and I don’t even know what subject my main character is studying. So, the preparation is going well. Honestly, I sort of wish I had the courage to step away and say I’m not doing it this year, because it’s probably a really bad idea and it’s just stubbornness and habit at this stage. I could easily do it in December instead, when term has ended and I have a load more time for writing! But… my brain is like, “We always do this. This will be our eighth year doing this. IT MUST HAPPEN.” (And then it’s like, “Hey, remember that time you wrote 200k and I’m like, “Hey, remember that time I couldn’t hold a pen for six months?”)

    tl;dr: NaNo is a tool not a rule, and if it’s going to be more harmful then helpful, good for you for recognising that and having the guts to step away from it now.

  2. Cynthia says:

    same?? I’m still debating if I want to do NaNo at all. I have stuff planned out but I don’t know if it would go well with school and mental health and things…

    *hugs!* self care is important 🙂

  3. I think you made a good decision. It’s better to take care of yourself then to stress out.

  4. Mahima says:

    It is SO a form of a self-care. And I think this is a thing among people wired to push themselves to the edge in order to attain as much as they can that when they “give up” something it feels like defeat. Honestly though you haven’t given up anything by not doing NaNoWriMo – you’ve gained a helluva lot of time and thinking space in order to manage what you’re already doing so that everything you do now brings you that much closer to your goals. ❤

    • nevillegirl says:

      “I think this is a thing among people wired to push themselves to the edge in order to attain as much as they can that when they ‘give up’ something it feels like defeat.” I should print this out and stick it on my bulletin board to remind me each and every day, honestly. ❤

  5. orphu44 says:

    Join the Non-NaNo Club! I decided much earlier that NaNo would probably just result in me doing badly in everything but now I’m starting to see NaNo-related things everywhere and I’m so envious and have already almost gone back on my decision several times.
    I hope you eventually get to write your gay girl-next-door novel, even if you do decide that college and NaNo don’t mix. And that you have a less-stressful November for this decision (I was going to say ‘relaxing’ but decided that might be pushing it a bit far).

    • nevillegirl says:

      Right? There were soooo many times this past November when I was tempted to join NaNo late because I got envious of everyone else’s novel ideas and well-planned-out outlines and such. But I know I wouldn’t have enough time and wouldn’t be able to do even a first draft of my Gay Girl Next Door novel justice.

      Thank you! 😀

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