Lessons from NaNoWriMo

OK, so it’s not the end of November yet and here I am putting out a post. As National Novel Writing Month isn’t over quite yet, and I promised I wouldn’t be posting on here again until it is, one of two things has happened. Either, a. I’m done with my 50 000 words for the month, or b. I’m not going to be finishing it.

Truth is, the answer’s b. I stopped working on the novel after ten days or so and a little over 14 000 words. Why, you may ask? As my sleep-deprived brain wondered what exactly had gone so wrong in my life (cranking out 1667 words a day for a month, when you’re trying to make time for your wife, working a full-time job, have a little time for yourself and still get a bare minimum of sleep really takes it out of you), I realized that what I’m passionate about, and really enjoy, was consuming my life.

Writing for me is supposed to be fun. As you tell stories, they have a tendency to take you places you didn’t envision when you set out, and for me that’s the best part. Taking a step ahead, chewing on it for a while (a month or more, if need be), taking two steps back to see what the right step forward is, and then doing it all again. My first manuscript (which I’m still working on publishing), topped out at about 90 000 words and took two years to finish. That’s how I write, and while the assembly line of 1667 words a day may have brought me back to a story I’ve had trouble working on for the last couple of years (but that’s another story), it threatened to devour my passion for writing in the process.

At the same time, snapping at your wife because your sleep deprived from trying to cram too much into an already overloaded day is not a good thing, either. Too much of a good thing really can be bad for you.

So what’s the lesson in all of this? As Proverbs 25:27 says, “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.” Our passions, hobbies, and interests are good and healthy in and of themselves, but when they start to consume us, they can become very unhealthy very quickly. It’s not worth destroying a passion in the process of using it for a contest or a pay check, and it’s also not worth focusing on our passions so much that our relationships suffer. Be who you are, and love what you do, but not to such an extreme that it takes the joy from your life.  

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