When you can’t write any more

CW: This article contains references to mental illness and bereavment/grief.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have noticed that I’m going through a pretty rough patch. For various reasons, including the loss of my childhood pet cat over the weekend, my mental health has taken a bit of a downturn. For some reason, however, I’m still expecting myself to maintain a daily word count of at least 1,667 words with NaNoWriMo.

Up until this point, writing my NaNo was one of the best times of the day. Now, I want to do so many things other than writing. I’ll sit to write in my NaNo file, and then I’ll feel this reaction of just no. Instead, I’ll go on Twitter or YouTube or Pinterest instead of writing, even if it has nothing to do with my WIP. We can analyze the psychological reasons for this to no end, but it’s frustrating when I know that I’ll feel so accomplished if I finish NaNoWriMo, but I still don’t want to do it.

It’s moments like this when I have to understand why I’m doing NaNoWriMo. I was hoping to use this as a jump-start towards my novel, and it would be nice if I had a finished first draft at the end of this, but I also can’t be this critical on myself during the first draft. Writing was always meant to be a way to express myself healthily, and it can’t be that way if I’m forcing it.

At this point, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and be compassionate with myself, regardless of whether or not I make the word count for that day. It would be nice if I can win NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it if I don’t. I’m hoping it will get better as time goes on, and that writing can eventually help me through this time.

Thank you for listening, and I’ll see you next time!


4 Comments on “When you can’t write any more

  1. Throughout the month of November I’ve been caught saying: “I can’t. I have to write an x amount of words.” No one in my life knows what NaNo is (or at least didn’t know until now), so they ask: “What will happen if you don’t?”, to which I would answer: “I would be behind and I might not get to write 50k by the end of the month”. They would then ask me what the consequences would be. Who’s the one that “checks” it. The answer is “ME!”. That surprises them. It surprises me, too. Being able to motivate myself like that is epic. And during those days when I didn’t hit my daily goal, I felt disappointed with myself, so I understand you feeling thorn.

    Do what feels right for you in that moment. And if you think you will have regrets at the end of this, push yourself just a tiny bit. It’s OK to grieve.

    • Definitely, and thank you for “it’s OK to grieve”—I needed that today 🙂 It may be kind of cheating since it’s not a NOVEL per se, but at this point, I’m using NaNo as a form of journaling. Instead of having to force my emotions to fit the narrative of my WIP (when it’s hard to feel anything right now, if I’m being incredibly honest), it encourages me to work through everything I’m going through productively. In any case, I have to remind myself that all I’d really “win” is bragging rights and the ability to wear a T-shirt without shame, so it’s not the end of the world if I don’t “win”.

      • I browsed through the online store when I created my NaNo account, and saw those “Winner” T-shirts, and felt a bit sad, because it seems like anyone can order those (even if they didn’t participate). For a spli second I thought about getting one and saying “screw it” to NaNo this month. But I decided to be a bigger person and write. I probably won’t buy the shirt, even if I “win”.

        Ultimately, it is US that defines the winners inside of us. No one else. Bending NaNo to your needs seems alright to me. As long as it makes you more accomplished, and it gets you writing more, I think it’s a WIN!

      • For sure! I also am working on the exercises from THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron, and I was using NaNo as an excuse to get into the habit of Morning Pages (stream-of-consciousness writing). In my opinion, at this point, if it’s something you wrote in the month of November, it’s fair game.

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