What’s Different About NaNoWriMo 2017

October 16, 2017 ♥ Posted in: News, Writing by Kristina Horner

NaNoWriMo is still a half a month away, but I can feel it looming in the distance, creeping in and causing stress and anxiety and a little bit of excitement but mostly anxiety. And listen – this is year twelve. I’ve finished NaNoWriMo while in college and working a job and running a YouTube channel all at the same time. I’ve finished NaNoWriMo when I missed an entire week to the flu. I’ve finished NaNoWriMo while dealing with breakups, while moving out of my parents’ house for the first time, while taking trips that stole my attention, while working on big projects at work, and more.

But this year feels different.

I’m nervous.

Yes, I’m planning a wedding. Yes, I’ve taken on a lot more responsibility at work and it eats up a lot more of my time. But I can deal with those things. I’m very good at finding time to do NaNoWriMo. I can wake up early. I can lock myself in a room. I can turn down social plans, or stay up late, or bribe myself with pictures of kittens.

The one thing I can’t work around is myself, and I haven’t exactly been able to rely on my ability to focus these days.

I’ve never had to worry before that a hurricane or a shooting or a wildfire or a new piece of terrible legislation will be the reason I might not finish NaNoWriMo. And I realize being able to say these things puts me in a place of privelege, and I acknowledge that. But I’m paying attention now. And while I can sing from the rooftops how important art is in times of chaos, that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to create it myself every single day because these things have been terrible – are terrible – and they’re happening with alarming frequency, and there’s no one leading this country doing a damn thing about any of it. I feel helpless, and sad, and scared – pretty much every day.

So my biggest fear this year is that I won’t finish. That my streak will end at 11, and year 12 will be the year I just can’t.

The only way I know how to work through this fear is to talk about it.

Honestly, I’m not sure I know how to mitigate this, except to wake up every day and face it. There genuinely might be more important things to do in November than work on my novel. Those things might be going to a protest, or using my 1667 words that day to write a letter to someone in congress, or crying in the bathtub. And that’s okay.

But I’m going to wake up every day and try.

And when I can, I’m going to try to remind others that creating art when you’re hurting can be therapeutic. And that some of the best works come out of trying to resist, so we should pour our anger into the things we create. And that even more important than making great art is making safe spaces for each other, and checking in with each other, and coping.

I believe we can all do it, together. But if we can’t, that’s okay too.



Sally says:

I only do Nanowrimo because of you. I saw your nanowrimo song on youtube and ever since have always attempted it – not always winning. You may not understand how loved you are by your fans. We all think the world of you and if this year you don’t finish on time – it does not dull our opinion of you in any way. I think it is wonderful to see a refreshingly honest take on the idea of failure. Sometimes the world gets us down. Sometimes there is too much to do and we cannot do unnecessary hobbies anymore.

However, if I may offer some advice (though I am a complete stranger, and only know you online so may not know you that well at all) – giving yourself a break from worrying might help you. It seems like you are really consumed with the state of affairs in America (as someone who lives in Australia, a country that is still debating if gay people should be allowed to get married, I sympathise with political frustration) and need to give yourself some focus. It is okay to put your mental health first and do what you need to do to be happy. If this means going easy this year, focusing on nano and blocking out the world, or skipping nano all together, it doesn’t matter. Do what you need to do to find inner peace because from this blog post it seems like you feel overwhelmed, like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders – try to let that go. It can be frustrating feeling like you need to do more – but i think you are amazing and inspire so many people that you’ve already done more than your fair share to help the world become a better place.

There are novels that only exist because you inspired people to write them. Never let that go from your soul. Always know that.

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me such a wonderful comment. This was exactly what I needed to hear and I am so thankful for people like you. I am a little bit teary eyed now. <3

Catriona says:

Hey Kristina

I think a lot of people will be feeling like you this year. But I think you make such a great point about giving it a try, even if you don’t manage to smash nano this year you will be doing your very best by just giving it a go and not letting your sadness, anxiety or doubts about the world around us stiffle your creativity. I’ve been watching your nano videos for a few years and always find they give me a much needed boost when I’m doubting my own writing abilities. The goal of nanowrimo is not to write 50,000 words under so much stress that you jeopardise your own well being or mental health but to give you the opportunity to work towards your goals whilst having a bit of external deadline pressure, and you can do that even if your goal is 30,000 or 10,000 words or something more important to you like just finishing a particular chapter or writing a great back story for your characters or even as you say using your words towards a non fiction goal. Whatever goal you decide to aim for I know you’ll reach it!

Hugs from London


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