Two things make me uncomfortable in life: tight outfits and getting behind on a challenge.
Tight outfits? I can't do much about that. When Nick Fury tells me I'm going to a party and lays out my clothes for me, I can't really say anything. Perhaps he's choosing my outfit with his left eye— I've heard he does that when he votes. Still, you don't tell your boss to totter off and get some fashion sense. You wear what he tells you, which is great when you're running around and fighting, but itches like crazy when you're just sitting still.
I sit still way too much.
But as I said, I can't do anything about the tight outfits. What I can control, however, is being behind on a challenge.
November is National Novel Writing Month! Whether you're participating in the challenge, participating in not doing the challenge, or participating in the first but thinking about the second, you deserve some encouragement. To be honest, I deserve some encouragement. I've been behind since day one, when I offhandedly decided I wanted to write but completely forgot what I liked writing about. Day two, I didn't write a word. It wasn't until day six that I finally got myself together and began writing in earnest. By that time, I was kind of resigned to being 10k behind the game for the rest of the month.
As I said, getting behind on a challenge bothers me a little. I like to be ahead of things. I like to say "On your left" as much as possible, even if I'm saying it to myself in past years. I don't mind letting others get ahead of me, as long as I'm beating my personal records.
Being 10k behind kind of beats my own record, I guess— how far behind can you be and still enjoy the novel you're writing. I've failed NaNoWriMo challenges before, but that's because I hate the novel I'm writing and decide to start afresh. I've failed because I forgot to validate my wordcount because I finished the challenge so early. But I hate to fail when it's a good concept, I'm writing regularly, but I can't do anything to get ahead.
But that's where I have to talk to myself. NaNoWriMo isn't about winning or losing. It's about the novel you write along the way. It's about la joie de l'écriture. It's about how long you can go without uploading a novel summary or title.
I know I hold that record, at least.
Every year, I have to ask myself this question, and answer it anew. Do I stress because I might not make it this month? Do I stress because I have high expectations and want to finish before November 14th? Or do I calm myself down, allow myself to write what I want to write, and allow the novel to come first? Once I put myself in that frame of mind, I find myself with plenty of time to write.
Put yourself in that frame of mind. Whether you're behind and pushing, ahead and relaxing, or on the cusp of failing or winning, let yourself step back. Figure out why you're writing this novel. Some people do it for the experience of writing a novel. Some people do it for practice. Some people, like me, do it to prove that despite all the other things going on in their lives, they can still support a writing life.
No matter your reason for writing, it's going to be hard. It's going to slap you in the face at some point and make you wonder if it's really worth it. That's something you have to overcome by yourself.
To me, it has always been worth it to at least try NaNoWriMo. I have only ever completed two challenges in the month of November— the other two times I've tried, I've crashed and burned spectacularly. The same goes for many of my Camp NaNoWriMo challenges. Why do I keep doing it? Because every month, I ask myself the same question.
Is this worth it?
And every month, I come to the same realization.
Yes, it's worth it to waste all my free time on my computer. Yes, it's worth it to stress a little about the numbers and the ideas. Yes, it's worth it to fight all my battles in a tight-tight-tight outfit, even though it itches when I rest. Those battles have to be fought. Those words have to be written. All that free time, if I didn't waste it on writing, would be wasted somewhere else, somewhere even less useful.
Answer me this, readers: Is it worth it for you? Is it worth it to write a novel in a month, even though you may have done it a million times already? Is it worth it to write a novel in a month, even if it's your first time? Is it worth it?