I have been a lifelong (well, since middle school) proponent of NaNoWriMo. I believe strongly in the Office of Letters and Light and think they do wonderful things for our community. I myself have attended meetups and completed several years of 50k words. Therefore, when I tell people I’m not participating this year, I feel like a fraud.
I think it goes deeper than forgoing an event that is so engrained in the writer community — it digs into how I have identified for the majority of my life. Aside from literary studies, I am also a creative writing major. Although I came in as a fiction writer, I was drawn into poetry quite early and really haven’t looked back. I still love prose — I want to publish a book one day. But I think the very valid advice of “write every day” colliding with the reality that I haven’t been doing that for a few years now (in terms of fiction) has resulted in a sense of guilt for my creative self.
And NaNoWriMo, in the November of seasonal depression and stagnation, seems like a quick fix. Have a partially drafted novel by the end of the month? Incredibly alluring to a productivity addict like myself. That sense of accomplishment could fix everything. I am a writer, and I can still make things instead of just blogging about them.
But I am also finishing up my final year at college, completing two majors and a senior thesis, all while holding two part-time jobs. Right now, I’ve decided that all of the above are important to me and to the self I want to become. I can’t take on more.
No, I can’t answer to getting rid of this nagging feeling of guilt, and I trust it will one day serve me. But right now, I am going to trust myself and the logic that I know what I can handle, and I’m going to take care of myself.
Your energy is valuable — give it to what matters, and don’t listen to that nagging voice. Not right now.