November 23

Strategies for Survival:  It’s Okay to Quit

This is going to be a sho1rt one, and the last in the harsh reality comfort sort of series we’ve got going here.

If you need to quit, it’s okay.

Yes, I did just spend the last post encouraging you to keep going, and keep trying, even if you know you’re not going to win.  I meant it, too.  You should.  Mostly.  Probably.

But let’s say that something has happened that is preventing your words that is really big.  Really heavy.  Maybe really distressing.

Or let’s say that for some reason looking at the hole you’re in is REALLY stressing you out.  You got off to a bad start and it’s just gotten worse and instead of feeling inspired by your story, you just feel bummed.

Or your schedule just filed up with nonsense to the point that you can’t go to any of the events you wanted to go to anyway, so you don’t have the benefit of having a good time while losing.

If you open your document and feel sadness instead of fun, and you KNOW you’re not going to get past it, AND you just don’t have it in you to start something new, you know what?  You can quit, and it’s okay.

Don’t quit for good!  Don’t let this one bad experience get SO BAD that you never want to do it again!  Just the opposite.  Nano will ALWAYS be there for you next year.  Even camp comes twice a year, in case you can’t wait that long.

Sometimes, it’s not so much about giving up as it is about letting go, and I will tell you my letting go story, of the VERY FIRST time I tried nano.

The year was 2005.  I had JUST heard of nano a few weeks before.  It sounded so fun!  So cool!  I didn’t even know that the website was a thing or that there was a community or anything!  I just thought it was a go ahead and do it sort of thing.  (Meanwhile, in reality, ML Owen was two years into doing it, and three years away from becoming ML Owen.  Perspective!)  I had a little idea, based on the mechanations of some coworkers that I thought I could plunk into a fantasy setting about the political maneuvering of women in a harem, and that was about it.  No plot, no characters, but who cares, let’s go!

Yeah, I failed.  Almost a week into the month, I had a paragraph, and no idea what I wanted to do.  The blank page was giving me SO much stress.  And I was so disappointed in myself.  I thought I was going to do this cool thing, and I had failed, miserably.  I was venting my woes to a school friend, and she said words I will never forget.

“You know…you don’t HAVE to do it.”

She was right!  I DIDN’T have to do it!  I could stop!  So I did.  I deleted that file, and I never looked back.  And I don’t think I’ve ever felt such relief.

A few years later, I got back into when a different friend did, lost that first year (but kept writing to the end, see previous post) won the next year, and have won every year since, except that year I had a herniated disk and figured if I had any words at all between school and waiting for surgery it was close enough to a win for me.

Enough about me, back to you.

If you feel like trying to finish your nano is giving you more stress than happiness, give yourself permission to stop.  Don’t feel bad about it.  The ONLY thing that really matters about nano is having a good time, and if you’re not, there is no shame, no blame, in letting it go.

Just don’t forget to come to kick off next year.

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