When NaNoWriMo isn't for you



Last week I wrote about how great NaNoWriMo is and gave a handful of tips for those of you participating in the challenge. 

And now this week, I'm here to say I've changed my mind. I'm not going to participate this year.

Earth shattering stuff, right? Not really. 

But, we don't often talk about when we change our minds and decide NOT to do something we said we would do. How often do we back out of something, stick our head in the sand, and never discuss the matter? I think it's because quitting, or if it looks like we're quitting, is somehow shameful in our society. 

It's not. So many times, quitting (or whatever word you want to use here) comes down to someone changing their mind. 

We're allowed to do that. People change. Circumstances change. 

Or, as so often happens with me, you get excited when you first think of something, decide it's a great idea, only to think about it as the days go on and realize it isn't the right choice for you. 

Over the last few years, I've tried to listen to my gut, to think before I act and speak, and to give myself time to process ideas before making a decision. I didn't do that with NaNoWriMo earlier this month. I got swept up in the excitement of it, remembering the fun of years past, and compared those feelings to those associated with the slow steady work that has been my writing life as of late... the two years and then some it took to write my latest novel, and the months it's taking to find an agent.

Ultimately, I forgot the process that fits with my life. 

By late last week I felt a growing sense of dread. I couldn't even think about planning and plotting my next story, because what was the point? I was just going to spend November freewriting and getting words in, and then after the month was over I could see what I had and go from there. I'd have 50,000 words to work with and weed through, and that would be amazing. 

Over the weekend I realized that the very thought of working through 50,000 quickly written words was the very thing that was filling me with dread, and I hadn't even written the words yet. 

And then, I gave myself permission to say no. To change my mind. To examine my life and remember what works for me, what my limitations are and be realistic in order to continue a writing life that is fulfilling, and sustainable. 

I am certain that there will be times when I'll be able to do NaNoWriMo again. But right now, as a homeschooling mom who is just finding her groove with so many things, I'm not willing to jeopardize my sanity, my sleep, my time, for those 50,000 words. 

What I am willing to do is cheer all of you on who are participating, and get to work on my next book in a way that makes sense for me, right now. Slow and steady. Like so many things in my life, slow and steady progress made by creating and meeting small achievable goals, is the way to success. My family and I live a purposefully slow life that meets the demands of all our personalities. This is not a hindrance. Hustling is not in any of our natures, and when one of us is hustling, it effects the rest of us. 

At this point in my life, I'm unwilling to let the culture of busy and hustle get the better of me. Even if that means backing out of commitments and challenges and anything that does not feel like it is a good fit. 

I'd invite you to do the same. Whether that means jumping into NaNoWriMo or not (again, read last weeks post! I think NaNo is a great thing! I fully support you if you're doing it next month!) 

I'm willing to bet our world would be a better place if we could all have the freedom to change our minds and say no when something doesn't feel right. 

It might give us the space to explore what brings us joy and what makes us tick without judgement, or own or others. 

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