Musings

Why I Quit Camp Nanowrimo This Year

July hasn’t been the worst. Nothing bad has happened in my life. I’m not broke. My husband hasn’t left me. My cats are perfectly healthy. Yet, my brain has been trying to convince me that my life is horrible. It was trying to tell me that I had no friends, that I wasn’t the writer that I thought I was, and that there was no point to anything.

Oh, hello depression. Could you…not?

While I don’t have clinical depression, I know I am prone to depressive episodes. This time, it was triggered by the story I was trying to write for Camp Nanowrimo. I’d challenged myself to write at least 1.2k a day of a story about mythological beasts and crime syndicates. It would have given me 30k worth of words to revise later. The problem was that when I sat down to write it, I drew a blank.

This story had been distracting me for a while. It’d been filling my mind with beautiful images and exciting ideas, but getting it from that stage to something similar to a story took more than I had. I didn’t have a solid plot. I didn’t have the research I needed. What I had was a mess, and that mess was destroying me. My heart wasn’t in it anymore, making each attempt to move forward a trial. I was at my worst the moments before writing, tearing myself apart over this story that I could not realize.

After talking it over with  my husband, he suggested I take a break from it. Now, all Nanowrimos have a time limit. Taking a break would have seriously crunched my time limit and put a lot more stress on me. It was slog through, take a break and then struggle, or give up. For my sanity, I chose to give up.

Here’s what I learned.

Either, it wasn’t the right time for me to tell this story, or I just wasn’t meant to tell it. A lot of people tried to tell me that the struggle I felt was me growing as a writer. In some cases, that could be true. In this case, it was destroying my mental health and I needed to step away from it, growth or not. There was no way I could continue to get through each day if I forced myself through this story.

The idea has been trunked. Maybe, someday, I’ll take back out and play with it. Maybe, I’ll salvage it and turn it into something bigger and better. All I know is that none of that can happen right now. I’m glad that I took a moment to work on my mental health. I’m not running away from growth as a writer. I just don’t think that the kind of suffering I was enuring would have led to any growth.

There are other projects for me to work on. I’m querying for Starlight. I’m plotting and planning for the Slavic Fantasy I was working on. Perhaps, I’ll drag out the Queer Pirate Fantasy I’d given up on, too. I’m not going to stop writing, but I am going to pay more attention to how my work affects my mental health.

I’ve been wanting to share what I’ve been going through. Things have turned around since I stopped worrying about Camp Nano. My life isn’t suddenly perfect, but I’m managing a lot better. I can’t wait to do some research for my Slavic Fantasy. Spinning Silver is waiting for me to pick it back up (because even though reading makes me happy, I avoid it when I’m depressed). I even bought a book about body positivity that I need to read.

I hope, when you read this, that I’ve helped you. It could be that I’ve helped you get a better image of me, or it could be that I’ve given you something to relate to. We aren’t alone in this world. Everyone struggles, even with the little things. And, that’s okay.

It’s okay to break down over being unable to find a shirt because you’re uncomfortable in anything else (yeah, that totally happened). It’s okay to give up on something causing you pain. Most of all, it’s okay to take care of yourself. My dream of getting published isn’t going anywhere. I’m going to keep at it. There will be tears and frustration along the way, of course.

But, I’m going to keep at it.

3 thoughts on “Why I Quit Camp Nanowrimo This Year

  1. This hits very close to home for me… You’ve made the right call by quitting – your health and wellbeing always must come first. The story will come to you, or if it doesn’t – another story will. You’re amazing and you can do it!

    1. Thanks, love! Paying attention to how we feel and drawing lines can really help. While that story didn’t work, a new one is really chugging along.

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