I left you with the most dire of warnings on Tuesday: "Creative writers, beware: NaNoWriMo can kill!"
And I firmly stand by that statement. NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month, really can kill. To my knowledge, it hasn’t so far. Not literally anyway. But as we creative writers know oh so well, anything is possible.
Anything like losing sleep and sanity over trying to get our daily word counts down, then losing even more sleep and sanity in trying to make up for previous failures to get our daily word counts down.
So for all of you die-hard types, here’s a genuine caution I really hope you take to heart:
NaNoWriMo is not worth dying over – no matter what any completely crazy writers might say.
There are people who take NaNoWriMo way too seriously. Don’t be one of them. (How about that for a rule?)
This is not a challenge worth losing your job over or breaking up for. Unless your significant other is a bum. Then go for it.
Okay. Yeah. Nobody has actually croaked as a direct result of doing National Novel Writing Month. But some people really have lost their jobs and relationships due to their intense focus on achieving that 50,000 word count – which, incidentally, comes with no real prize other than the pride of personal accomplishment.
I recently read a book called Real Artists Don’t Starve, which I’m not going to recommend. With that said, author Jeff Goins had a list of differentiations between real artists and starving artists, where a real artist will, say, seek out mentorship while a starving artist tries to do it all alone.
I’m sure Goins would agree that losing your job over an unpaid, unofficially official competition is the mark of a starving artist, not a successful one.
NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a fun challenge. It’s supposed to inspire you to work on that manuscript you’ve said you’re going to work on so many times. It’s meant to connect you with other writers who can encourage you along your way.
But it’s not designed to kill you, your ability to provide for yourself, or your long-term connectivity with others. At least it shouldn’t be.
… With one exception to the rule, as stated above. For kicks and giggles, let’s repeat or rephrase it right below.
If you’re in a bad relationship, romantic or otherwise, feel free to use NaNoWriMo as the ultimate excuse to end it. If that healthy idea makes you uncomfortable, try practicing any of the following lines in the mirror:
“Sorry, sweetie, but I can’t hang out tonight. I really need to focus on my word count.”
“Oh! You want to come over? I’m actually going to be out at a National Novel Writing Month event. All evening. Until I-don’t-know-what-o’clock. And I’m headed there right after work, so no, I can’t see you beforehand either.”
“It’s not you. It’s my manuscript. I need to choose, and you just come up short. So I guess it actually is you after all.”
“I know we said we’d go to the movies this week. But NaNoWriMo is simply more important than our toxic connection.”
Before you know it, your bad relationship will get so annoyed with you that he or she will simply find someone else to bother, leaving you to go on with your writing – and general life – sans at least one bum.
Which, come to think of it, would make a highly entertaining manuscript premise.
Maybe even a genuine NaNoWriMo fairytale success story.