What’s Different About NaNoWriMo 2017
NaNoWriMo is still a half a month away, but I can feel it looming in the distance, creeping in and causing stress and anxiety and a little bit of excitement but mostly anxiety. And listen – this is year twelve. I’ve finished NaNoWriMo while in college and working a job and running a YouTube channel all at the same time. I’ve finished NaNoWriMo when I missed an entire week to the flu. I’ve finished NaNoWriMo while dealing with breakups, while moving out of my parents’ house for the first time, while taking trips that stole my attention, while working on big projects at work, and more.
But this year feels different.
Yes, I’m planning a wedding. Yes, I’ve taken on a lot more responsibility at work and it eats up a lot more of my time. But I can deal with those things. I’m very good at finding time to do NaNoWriMo. I can wake up early. I can lock myself in a room. I can turn down social plans, or stay up late, or bribe myself with pictures of kittens.
The one thing I can’t work around is myself, and I haven’t exactly been able to rely on my ability to focus these days.
I’ve never had to worry before that a hurricane or a shooting or a wildfire or a new piece of terrible legislation will be the reason I might not finish NaNoWriMo. And I realize being able to say these things puts me in a place of privelege, and I acknowledge that. But I’m paying attention now. And while I can sing from the rooftops how important art is in times of chaos, that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to create it myself every single day because these things have been terrible – are terrible – and they’re happening with alarming frequency, and there’s no one leading this country doing a damn thing about any of it. I feel helpless, and sad, and scared – pretty much every day.
So my biggest fear this year is that I won’t finish. That my streak will end at 11, and year 12 will be the year I just can’t.
The only way I know how to work through this fear is to talk about it.
Honestly, I’m not sure I know how to mitigate this, except to wake up every day and face it. There genuinely might be more important things to do in November than work on my novel. Those things might be going to a protest, or using my 1667 words that day to write a letter to someone in congress, or crying in the bathtub. And that’s okay.
But I’m going to wake up every day and try.
And when I can, I’m going to try to remind others that creating art when you’re hurting can be therapeutic. And that some of the best works come out of trying to resist, so we should pour our anger into the things we create. And that even more important than making great art is making safe spaces for each other, and checking in with each other, and coping.
I believe we can all do it, together. But if we can’t, that’s okay too.