NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close and I am not going to win this year. The realization that this wasn’t going to be my year started to sneak in over Thanksgiving break. Every year, I spend Thanksgiving with my mom. It’s always been her favorite holiday and in the years since our family separated and spread out across states, it’s become my favorite as well. Thanksgiving is when my home-loving mom is in her absolute element. She fusses over my brother, myself, and now my boyfriend as well, cooking up a storm with specialties for each day of our visit. Her internet is slow and she doesn’t have cable so time spent at her place is generally quiet and cozy, with lots of reading and usually writing too.
But this year, going home for Thanksgiving was like entering hibernation. Maybe it was the fact that New York is more aligned with the four seasons so it actually felt like late fall in all of its chilly, cozy glory. It could also be the fact that I’d turned off my work email notifications and let myself truly step away from the demands of my job. Either way, I found myself drawn to reading and journaling and away from the hard work of writing a novel. Sure, the needling guilt crept in just a little bit at the wealth of noveling time I was letting slip through my fingers. What about the win? Didn’t I want that awesome superhero-themed winner’s t-shirt this year? How could I abandon my novel like that?! I wasn’t even keeping up with my creativity challenge!
But here’s the thing that every creative must realize at some point, especially those who rely on their creativity to make a living: downtime is just as important as active time. We are not machines with frictionless gears who can churn out stories and paintings and songs and designs ad infinitum. At some point, we need to rest, gather inspiration, and tend our inner soil with seeds that will sprout into new creative works in the future.
For a lot of writers, December is the post-NaNo crash that allows recovery to take place. Winter is the perfect season for that since nature is resting and hibernating all around you. But after a year of pushing so hard at work and challenging myself to new heights of creativity with this blog and my writing, winter arrived a little early for me. And honestly? I’m not mad at it. Since returning to Atlanta, I’ve delved deeper into this hibernation mode, spending my evenings reading and journaling, coloring and thinking. Enjoying some quiet time and puppy snuggles. I feel like I’ve earned it.
For all of you powering through on this last day of NaNoWriMo, I hope you take some time in December to rest and relax. How are you planning to recharge your creative batteries post-NaNo?