The first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, 2009, my personal life was in chaos. I was looking out at the rest of my life and trying to remember what it was I wanted to do.
Even then, I took time to write here and there every week, but it wasn’t enough to support the career I wanted for myself. It wasn’t enough to finish the story I wanted to tell. I’d heard about National Novel Writing Month, and it seemed a good way to give myself permission to write. It also gave me an excuse to tell my family, “Hey, I’m writing a novel this month, get take out” or “No time to vacuum, I’m writing a novel.”
It worked. I didn’t finish my novel that month. I didn’t meet my word goal. The chaos sucked me in, but I did give myself permission to write more often. I gave myself permission to go out at night and sit in a café and let my family fend for themselves.
And I continued, even after that first November, to make time for my writing. The next year, and for every year since, I have completed my 50,000 words. Signing up on the website, going to write-ins, and watching my words stack up on the word chart help keep me motivated.
I have given myself permission to work towards what I want. I don’t write 1,667 words every day of the year, but I do write most days. I saved money and paid for an amazing manuscript consult this year. I’ve taken research trips for the novels I’m revising. I’ve learned how to travel the world for work and still keep my writing practice (I’m writing this note to you from Bangkok, Thailand).
My life has changed in amazing ways. The seed of that change was in the permission I gave myself six years ago to write every day, to let the people I love fend for themselves for a little while, to take care of myself in the same way I’d cared for other people for so long.
My wish for you this November is that you give yourself permission to take the time to write every day. Tell the people you care for what you are doing. Schedule time for your writing, and let your family/friends/coworkers take care of some of their own needs, just for November.
They may pout, they may whine, they may make you feel as if you are the worst person in the world for taking care of your needs. That’s okay. That’s about them not you.
Give yourself permission to do for yourself what you would do for other people. After all, it’s just for November, right?