NaNoWriMo Halfway Check In: Why Did I Do This Again?

There is always this point in the month of November where, if anyone asks me how things are or how NaNoWriMo is going, I say something like, "I don't know why I get so excited about doing this every year! I hate it! I'm stressed out!" 

For the first 10 days of November, I was a writing machine. I wrote almost 20,000 words in those 10 days. I felt motivated. I felt powerful. I felt completely capable of kicking NaNoWriMo's butt. 

Then the election happened. 

The day of, I was too anxious to write. As time went on throughout the day, I knew I wasn't going to be able to hit my word count for the day, so it was good I had written up a pretty strong buffer to keep myself from falling behind. 

The next day, however, my motivation was zapped. It felt so pointless. It was the same with my blog. I didn't write hardly anything for two days. I mostly sat and read and thought about stuff. I retweeted things on Twitter. I did the bare minimum in terms of writing. 

I hit a slump pretty badly last week and a lot of it had to do with the social and political upheaval that was going on. 

Another part of it had to do with the fact that I just get so tired. Every single year it happens: around 13 or 14 days in, I just get tired: of writing the same thing, of keeping the same schedule, of pushing myself. Mentally, I end up exhausted by writing so much. It sounds great to write 1500+ words per day--actually, it sounds totally easy. But I also work at a creative job where I write every day too. Writing blog posts, social media, and emails for work, then going home and writing blogs and social media for myself, and then sitting down to write a chapter of a novel? 

Not ideal, creatively. 

However, I think I'm finally on the other side of it. 

Yesterday, I posted a tweet about how I had no motivation to blog. I got responses from three of my favorite people on Twitter saying, essentially, the same thing: you don't have to write every day, you don't have to blog every day, but it's worth it to do so. 

It felt really good to be validated (and to know that people missed my blog!). It also felt really motivating to know that, yes, other people feel in a slump because of the election too; they feel like maybe it's a little pointless to do these things now. 

But another part of me thinks it's more important ever to write--and to write the stories that I, as a woman, want to read. Our world is changing and I'm not 100% sure it's for the better, but the more I use my voice, the better I will feel. Maybe it's pointless--who knows?--but it feels better to keep doing it. 

Then I find myself thinking things like this: The story I'm writing for NaNoWriMo is definitely not life-changing. It's a true crime story centered around 3 best friends in 1970s New Jersey. It's kind of dumb, very self-indulgent, and ultimately just something I had been thinking about for months. 

I write sentences like that and then I think, "But Michelle, you're using your voice to talk about women, to talk about victims, to tell a story that hasn't really been told before." 

OK, self-indulgent. That's fine. But I wouldn't be writing something if it didn't matter, right? 

These are the things I work through every NaNoWriMo, but this is the first time I've ever written about it. Even though I write near constantly and blog all the time as well, I'm very insecure about my writing; I don't like other people reading my writing and I don't really enjoy talking about it. Sometimes people are actually surprised to learn I write both fiction and poetry because I tend to just not mention it. 

As of last night, I had written 35,000 words. I'm 15,000 words away from winning NaNoWriMo which means I can effectively calm down. Last year, I only got to 20,000 words through the entire month of November. That's a huge improvement in terms of "writing after having a baby," at least in my mind. 

And if nothing else, I can at least say, "2016 didn't totally suck. I wrote a novel."

If you'd like to follow my progress on NaNoWriMo (or just want to chat about your NaNo progress), I post occasional updates on Instagram. You can follow me here