Dingle, Ireland (2013)

November is often a time for avoiding social obligations. For hibernating from the outside world and putting a permanent glutes-shaped dent into the comfy couch. For late coffee runs and an excess of hair falling into the drain.

Because November is National Novel Writing Month. Or to those “in the industry”, simply NaNoWriMo.

There’s something super sexy about being part of a relatively quiet community of introverts (although I see you, ambiverts and socially anxious extraverts), hitting our keys in the seemingly endless quest for an actual plot, procrastinating on the various threads and chats within the NaNoWriMo platform (which still makes us feel like we’re doing the work, because we’re still writing about NaNoWriMo things, just not our actual novels which is the point of NaNoWriMo, so in some weird way we convince ourselves that it somehow counts), and feeling stressed and crappy about this stupid word count goal when we could have been spending our time doing early holiday shopping and binging shows on Netflix and having an actual social life which everybody else seems to enjoy so maybe we should try giving that a shot instead of all this endless masochistic keys-clacking madness

Until that final moment, of course — that luscious feeling of accomplishment and sneering satisfaction — when you reach that 50,000th word.

Which, in NaNoWriMo culture, we call “winning“.

Which I did, last year. And I gotta tell ya, there’s nothing in the world quite like that feeling of write, write, write, write, write, write, DONE!!

And my reward is equally wonderful.

I’m not talking about the congratulations I got from other NaNoWriMo’ers. Nor the tokens and badges they give you on their website to add to your profile and declare yourself a winner. Not even that 50,001 word file in my archives with the fruit of my writing labor.

Nope – my reward is that this year, I’ve earned the right to sit out. The right to not write, or rather, to write whatever quantity I want, on whatever project I want, with absolutely zero peer pressure, no nightmares that freakily follow the beats in the Save the Cat Plot, no guilt for taking a few hours to actually interact with other human beings in real life.

Somewhere deep inside I’m sure that means I’m doing it wrong, that NaNoWriMo is actually about getting into the habit of writing every day so you get past your internal editor and somewhere in the volumes and volumes of text you can discover creative gold. And perhaps I’m missing out on an opportunity to get back into that and reap the rewards that consistent butt-in-chair writing always seems to give me, and that I have been slacking off for far too long and what better time than now to get my brain back into doing what makes it function at its best.

I would be surprised if my future self, whether it be Me 2022 or more like Me 2026, doesn’t find herself thinking those thoughts in October and jumps into the fray again.

But this year, I’m a supporter, a spectator, and a socializer. And it feels so good.

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