NaNo Week 3 Has Come And Gone… I Need Help

Week three of NaNoWriMo is over and I think it’s safe to say that I will not be hitting that 50k goal by November 30th. Now, I have no intention of giving up, and I am still determined to write a little bit of this story each day until it’s finished. But we’re more than half way through the month and I’m not even halfway through this novel. At this point, it’s better to set realistic expectations rather than to push myself harder than I need to.

Although I didn’t hit the 50k target last year either, this year feels different. Last year’s project had some wonderfully developed characters, if I do say so myself, but the plot never came together in a way that made sense to me. even a year later, I still have no idea what kinds of situations to put those characters in. Although someday I would love to be able to finish that story, I would not be surprised if it a) never happens, or b) takes a few years before I’m hit with that all important flash of inspiration. As much as I love the characters I created, I just don’t know that the story (or the world, for that matter) is strong enough to work its way out of my unfinished projects folder.

This year’s project is completely different, and not just because I plotted and planned in advance. For me, NaNoWriMo 2021 has been about more than just the writing. Yes, I plan on finishing this story – I’ll work on it every day until it’s finished – but this has become a valuable learning experience for me. Since becoming self-employed, I’ve been trying to figure out that optimal work/life balance so I can still indulge my inner workaholic without burning out and causing flareups of my chronic health conditions. And of course, that has been a significant factor when it came to pacing myself and deciding to take one day a week off from writing. But that’s not the only learning experience that has come up for me this month.

I sure wish I could sleep at my desk too

One of the things that has come up in therapy a lot is that I am the kind of person who always has to do things by myself. It’s one of the reasons why I chose self-publishing over traditional publishing. I feel the need to tackle everything on my own without asking for help, and that’s something I’ve been working on fixing. I am teaching myself to ask for help when I need it, and that’s even harder than trying to write a 50k in a month. This particular November, between NaNo, freelance work, self-publishing work, household responsibilities, and, and, and… I found myself with too much on my plate. Yet I was not prepared to relinquish control of any of the many things I was attempting to juggle. As a result, I got sick, I burned out, and overall I just felt like shit.

My breaking point was when I found myself in tears about the realization that I would not be able to reach that 50K goal this month. And that’s when my husband stepped in to make sure I actually accepted the help I so desperate need. Now, my husband has made dinner for us before on those rare occasions I actually let him, but for the first time in the six years we have been together, I am going to put an end to my stranglehold on the kitchen. I will still cook dinner 2-3 nights a week, because it is something that I enjoy doing, but I’m going to do my best to turn off my territorial behaviour so that he can safely enter the kitchen and cook our dinner the other 4-5 nights. This is huge for me.

So, even though I won’t be hitting that precious 50k goal on the 30th, this year’s NaNo experience has been a valuable one. Apart from the word count, the ultimate goal of this competition is to build healthy and sustainable writing habits, and by accepting help from my husband what he offers it, that’s exactly what I’m doing. With that in mind, it looks like I do get to win NaNoWriMo 2021 after all.

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