No NaNo for Me

This year I am not participating in NaNoWriMo.

This is the first November since I became a NaNoer in 2004 that I have not participated in this crazy, tremendous writing event. This is the first November I’m not even bothering to attempt a novel. I didn’t win ever year, but I always put in the effort to start. I always spent October planning, and getting some words down in November. I have always stretched my creative mind in November, even when it’s just a little bit, because I am a writer and that’s what I have to do.

But this year, I am not.

And a large part of me fears that I’m not participating because, for the first time since 2004, I just don’t have anything to write. I don’t have a story to tell. Or, I don’t have a story I want to tell.

I know, I know. I spend a lot of time talking, blogging, and tweeting about that novel-in-progress I have — and, I guess it still is a novel-in-progress. I still believe in and love the story I’m trying to tell. These last few months, though, I haven’t written a word. I haven’t jotted a note. I haven’t doodled an outline.

What have I done?

I’ve opened blank document after blank document. I’ve flipped through blank journal pages. Essentially, I have done nothing.

My word document is blank, and my mind is blank, and something about this scares me. For the first time since I can remember, writing — writing anything — is not just hard. It’s not possible.

In case you’ve been wondering, yes, this has definitely impacted by blogging and tweeting, as well. It’s even impacted my reading. It’s like I’ve disconnected from the written, fictional word entirely.

So here is my odd, spontaneous November confessional. I am in the worst place possible with my writing, and I have no idea how I got here, and I have no idea how to get to a different place.



  1. I see how busy you are and honestly? I I think you’re probably just exhausted. If you could take a full week to do nothing but sleep and eat and veg and watch TV, the spark might glow again. For now, I doubt it’s gone, but rather buried under all those pesky articles and TO DO lists. Hang in there. Perhaps when the term is over, you can take a much needed break.

  2. i personally believe that using NaNo as an active, positive time as a writer is more important than meeting a word goal or putting a story onto paper. as someone who doesn’t write fiction at all, i’ve never used NaNo for its intended purpose, but i do try to prepare my mind for the upcoming year by thinking about writing in a productive way instead of a “stuck” way. for me, this usually means making lists, really trying to jot things down when i think of them instead of pretending i’ll remember them later “when i have more time” to flesh the idea out, etc. i think that if you need to focus on grad writing, then spend the month doing that in the most productive, positive way that you can so that you don’t cut off those writing ties completely. knowing that you were able to commit yourself to any project–even a mental one– for a month should help you find the outline doodles for your novel again. don’t put too much pressure on yourself! writing is like a chinese finger trap, the harder you try to “get out of your slump” the harder you will stay there.

    wow. longest comment ever. go forth and be mentally well!

    • Long comment, sure, but a really great one. You’re right that writing slumps are like Chinese finger traps, and your suggestion to use November to succeed at my academic writing is a great idea. Also, what needs to happen since my semester ends Dec. 7. Heh. But still, I can use the writing motivation all around me to do my own academic writings. Thanks for your super long & nice comment. It cheered me up on a Sunday morning.

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