Updated: Aug 29, 2022
My body shook and tears burned my eyes as I retched in the bathroom. On my knees, in front of the toilet, the sickeningly sweet smell of regurgitated energy drink and chocolate came up to me. It was worth it, I told myself, despite the fact I had fever like chills, and my hands were cramped so bad I couldn’t even hold a bottle of water to my own mouth.
That was NaNoWriMo 2014. 9 days in, and I had hit over 40 thousand words. I had done 20 thousand words in four hours straight. I hadn’t stopped to make tea or a sandwich, I had only stopped typing long enough to use the bathroom, and shovel more discounted Halloween candy in to my mouth. It sounds terrible and great at the same time. I’ve done that two years in a row now. I will never let myself do it again. I burnt myself out on words. For the following week, even the act of sitting down at my desk to write made me feel nauseous.
This is the dark side of NaNoWriMo. The side where we only focus on doing whatever it takes to get that word count down, and forgetting to take care of ourselves in the process. Thankfully, this had been the only down side of NaNoWriMo for me. I’ve been doing it for years, and I’ve won multiple times. It’s the one month a year I’ve been able to prioritise writing over anything else. It’s helped me to get to the point through out the rest of the year, where I sit down and make time for my writing, so that come November, I will not make myself sick trying to catch up.
The happier side of NaNoWriMo is the reason I love it. The community. The idea that I can write whatever I want without worrying about how good or bad it is. I’ve met a few of my best friends though NaNoWriMo. I’ve gotten friends who struggled with writing to join in, and feel an amazing sense of accomplishment when they see the words scrawling across the page.
November brings a magical time of year for me, a time fraught with tears and laughter, cramped hands and terrible paragraphs, bad eating habits, and too much caffeine consumption. There is a good and bad side to NaNoWriMo, but without NaNoWriMo, I wouldn’t have the best friends that I have. I wouldn’t have the confidence in my writing that I’ve gained, and honestly, I wouldn’t have the sense of purpose that I feel. I just also need a reminder to take care of myself whilst writing my little heart and soul away.
About the author: Brittany Tucker served as an admin for The Writer's Workout in 2015-16 and is an avid supporter of The Writer's Games since its inception. You can follow her on twitter: @RubyTuesday89.