Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo

Alternatively, a discussion on self-care.

This year has been rough. Like, “spent most of it in a memory-dissolving depression haze” rough. I made a lot of plans for myself that I simply couldn’t complete, let alone start. And of course, this made one nasty spiral as failure after failure added up and I became consumed by guilt over it.

One of the biggest “failures” came as of this month – and last. I’ve been getting into art more and more as of late. I wanted to challenge myself, so I decided I was going to do Inktober. And it failed. Terribly. I lasted… about a week, and I’m proud of what I managed to make, but then so much happened and I crashed and burned.

It is with this in mind that I decided that I didn’t need to do NaNoWriMo, either.

I suppose if I really put myself to it, I could do it. Maybe. There’s not much going on this month aside from my hectic work schedule. But still, I have been noticing a trend in creative spaces that I don’t think benefits me. I don’t think it benefits anyone. And it’s partaking in events regardless how much it stresses you out or how much time you actually have… almost, fetishizing destroying yourself for the sake of partaking in an event. We’ve seen all the memes about artists despairing in October, and I started seeing them again for November.

But, honestly? Endangering your mental health “for teh memes” or to feel like you’re a part of something isn’t worth it. And sure, NaNo is hard. That’s why it’s a challenge. I’ve done it before, and I’ve won and I’ve lost. But lately it feels almost… expected to do it. It’s all over our social media feeds. It’s a major topic in the writing community.

This year, I’m not doing NaNo. I don’t know if I’ll do it next year. All I know is that I know it isn’t good for me or anyone else to push our limits for the sake of an event that, while it fosters a sense of community, won’t benefit us mentally in the long run.

Instead, I’m taking the time this month to focus more on myself and my well-being, and to check in with myself often. And even if you’re partaking in NaNo, there are things you can do to keep yourself in check:

  • Make sure to stay hydrated. Water is best, but most fluids are beneficial.
  • Take breaks. Staring at screens all day hurts. Every hour or so, stand up, walk around, get your blood flowing. Just for five minutes.
  • Make sure to eat something! If you don’t have the energy to make an entire meal, that’s okay. Just make sure you eat something.
  • Check your posture!
  • Flex your wrists. Carpal tunnel is a bitch.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your goal. What’s important is you did your best.
  • If you need to take a day off, or multiple, do so.
  • Most importantly, check in with your loved ones and reach out if you need to be checked on! Reaching out is one of the hardest goddamn things to do, but know that you are valued and loved and needed.

Author: draconako

Alex is a queer writer, game-maker, and mountain of incomprehensible goo living in the Pacific Northwest. When they aren’t being paid to manage insurance accounts, they’re researching whatever interests them, reading from their arsenal of books, playing video games, or spending time with their partner. They can be reached at @draconako on most of the internet or at authoralexharvey@gmail.com

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