NaNoWriMo 2011: Will I or Won’t I?

The other day I happened to catch a tweet about getting ready for NaNoWriMo to begin on November 1. After asking myself where October (and September) went, I realized that it is, indeed, about that time.

In 2009, NaNoWriMo is what got me back into writing. I always think about things like, “If this had or hadn’t happened, then this or that outcome would have been different.” I do that with basically everything. My head is a weird place to be. However, I think it stands to reason that if I hadn’t been craving some kind of purpose at that point in 2009, you wouldn’t be reading this blog, for better or worse.

When I realized I could be successful as a writer (the kind of success that I define, not that society determines for me in terms of income), I kept writing and editing. I prepared for NaNo 2010.

And I succeeded again.

Without NaNoWriMo, who knows what path I would be on. I’d probably still be drifting, confused because I thought I knew what I wanted out of life, but I didn’t. Or rather, I did know, but my wants changed. Without NaNoWriMo, I wouldn’t have started to really consider myself a writer again. I wouldn’t have taken a chance and responded to a Craigslist ad for an unpaid blogging position on an up-and-coming news site.

Most people take unpaid positions of any kind with a grain of salt. They don’t put a lot of thought or time into them because they don’t see what they could possibly get out of it.

I, however, am not most people. Bolstered by my shift in self-image, I took that unpaid blogging position and ran with it. After all, I was eager to develop as a well-rounded writer. I was doing creative, and now it was time to do some Web writing. I took that position very seriously and committed myself to learning, even when people criticized me for it.

“I have to pay my dues; this isn’t where my background is. I’m building momentum,” I’d say. But even I wasn’t totally sure. Maybe it would be a colossal waste of time.

And now I’m certain that this, digital communications, is what I want to do with my life. I do love social media.

What used to be unpaid blogging eventually became paid work. It’s freelance, so I have to save to pay my taxes. I can’t move out of my parents’ house or spend lavishly. But I can pay my bills. I can add the title of “Managing Editor” to my resume. I read so many interesting articles and blog posts every day, and while my job is technically part-time, it feels very much full-time to me. For the most part, I don’t really mind. The work is genuinely enjoyable, and I continue to look for something similar full-time.

NaNoWriMo was the seed from which all of that sprouted.

And therein lies the problem. NaNo has led me to a decent amount of success in various realms of writing and beyond.

If I were to participate this year, it would be an effort to complete that 2010 novel. I know that’s not what NaNo is about, but that’s what I would really want to do. The problem is that I’m not sure if I have the time.

There are four days for me to figure this out.

Sure, I know I could participate and just tell myself that I’m not going to win this year. But I don’t roll like that. If you know from the start that you’re absolutely not going to be able to complete something, why even bother starting in the first place? I feel compelled to see things through.

As it stands, my nights have gone from getting to sleep at 2 a.m., then 3. Then it got to 3:30. Then 4. For the past week, I haven’t been going to bed until around 4:15 in the morning when my dad is getting up to go to work. I know I’m trying to do too many things at once and a lot of people would tell me to cut back or give some stuff up, especially because I’m prone to stress, but I can’t. Life, like writing, is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. There is a place for everything, and I’m hell-bent on making everything fit. I’m happier when I’m busy.

When I consider not doing NaNo this year, I start to feel guilty. Biting the hand that feeds you, eh? At the same time, I don’t know how I’d feel about spending such an enormous part of my month on something that isn’t taking my career where I want it to go when I’m at this turning point. Everything takes time. Everything takes effort.

I’m pretty torn on this one, but in about 4 days I know I’ll have to make up my mind. What would you do?

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4 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo 2011: Will I or Won’t I?

  1. I thought the point of NaNo was to jump start any latent writer tendencies by making you actually do it. You don’t need a jump-start any more. On account of all that there WRITING. Guilt, be gone! Away, away with you I say!
    There. Did you like that? You have to yell it in a Shakespeare voice.

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