I have done NaNoWriMo for years. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But I always tried at least. I always put words down on paper that weren’t there before. There were years that I finished a novel, and years that I got halfway through a novel and shed tears over how long it was going to be. Last year I finished the novel that has been bugging me for most of my life.
This year, I decided not to. I didn’t sign up at all. I didn’t browse my various story ideas to find the perfect one to finish or to begin. There have not been any pounding on the keyboard in desperate hopes that I can write a thousand words before bedtime. To put it simply, I am not writing a story at all.
I had a long chat with my schedule and my expectations for myself. My schedule told me that if I added another thing I was going to crash and burn. My expectations told me that if I didn’t start writing thousands of words every day I would never be a real writer.
I told my expectations to take a hike.
I work full time as a preschool teacher. I go to school full time to be an elementary teacher. I am a sister to five lovely people, a friend to many other lovely people, and I have a relationship I am trying to prioritize. In other words. I am busy. To put it another way, my days are full already, without the added pressure of writing 1,667 words every day.
And yet, with all of that, the insidious voice of guilt whispered that if I was better, more organized, less lazy, I would find a way to do Nano. Somehow, if I worked hard enough, I could stretch 24 hours into 28. Right?
Sometimes, it is useful to listen to that voice, to look carefully at what I wish I was doing better and perhaps change something so that I am more careful, more productive, or healthier. Most of the time, it is better to stick my tongue out at the voice and yell at the top of my lungs that what I am doing is enough. I don’t have to do more to be successful. I don’t have to do more to be loved. I don’t have to be perfect.
Perfection is unattainable. My expectations of myself are impossible. So I can either kill myself while trying to attain them, or I can let go and enjoy this season of life.
The latter sounds more fun.