A NaNoWriMo Declaration

Personal / Friday, October 16th, 2020

November is National Novel Writing Month. I haven’t successfully completed a NaNoWriMo since undergrad. For the past several years I’d pondered getting back into it, but for the most part I’ve been using the spirit of the event to get some writing done. I haven’t paid attention to the word count in years. Last year, I even went to an officially sanctioned meetup at a local Panera, but even then I wasn’t taking it too seriously.

I’m still not going to take it too seriously. This year (like I’ve been unofficially doing), I plan to participate as what the community calls a rebel. That is, I am technically not following the 50,000 word fiction novel format, but will still be using the event for accountability. And, different from past years, I plan on hitting that word count. I’ve done similar in the past with screenwriting (just having general goals to churn out outlines or a certain number of pages) and unsurprisingly, most of the screenplays I have were written in or at least started in a November.

Some NaNo Rebels go totally off the grid and do non-writing things, but most rebels are still doing some type of writing, just not the specific original fiction work outlined in the rules. For example, people will do poetry, or a series of non-related essays or short stories.

My NaNoWriMo this year sets the bar very, very low as simply a way to get me more on track writing for my animation site, Animation Complex.

I should be writing for my site daily as it was, but this year has been particularly challenging to engage with my normal writing practices.

So I’ll still be aiming for 50,000 words, or about 1,667 words a day for the 30 days of November.

But it’ll be towards blog posts and video scripts for the most part. I think I’d still like to do some screenwriting and story outlining, but I want the focus to be on work for the site. This also doesn’t mean I’ll be posting every day to the site or anything, but I would like to build up a solid catalog of works in various stages of completion.

Now more than ever I can’t rely on motivation, especially with something like this. Routines and systems, discipline, and quantitative goal-setting are what I have to rely on. I feel like this blog has been a 6-year cycle of the same self-sabotaging thoughts and practices.

As I approach my 31st birthday, and struggle to change up and expand my original 30 before 30 list into a 35 before 35, I think about the kind of person I want to be at 35–in four years.

I’ve found that more and more the goals I have in mind are less about any one specific goal or project or one-and-done occurrence, and it really has been more about figuring out the qualities and character I want.

One of those is being the kind of person that says they are going to do something and does it. I’ve always been very good at doing that when it comes to other people’s ideas and projects, but I’ve never placed my own on the same level. It’s always been a sliding scale of importance.

Now that I’m about to wrap up my first calendar year of freelancing and carving my own path since grad school (and let’s be real, what a shit year to be doing so), I know that regardless of the external circumstances that have been deeply affecting me this year, I was also reactively unhappy that I struggled so much to do things I wanted. That’s a bigger issue mental health-wise for sure, and one I am trying to work through. It is absolutely a combination and balance of discipline and wellness (the real kind, not the capitalistic co-opted self-care kind).

I want to write. In a year where that hasn’t felt true the majority of the time, I know that it’s what I want. That I will and have been struggling, but still get that deep satisfaction from having written. That I relish possessing the title of writer, and want to earn it, and know that whether I win NaNo or not, with a sincere attempt made I will have done so.

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