The World Ate My Soul First

With just under two months before NaNo, my Dad died on Friday and my whole world has gone into a bit of a tailspin. I’m now finding the idea of taking on NaNo, and being a force of novelling positivity at write-ins, a really daunting prospect.

Has anyone else had major life events make them feel like this year’s NaNo is going to be an unmitigated disaster? Anyone else been in a similar situation ob previous years and have any pointers?

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I’ve had it go both ways. I’ve had events overwhelm me and make NaNo fall to the wayside, and I’ve had years where I’ve successfully made the negative events turn into burnable fuel for writing. I’d say take care of yourself and let writing be a respite, if you can. But if you do need a break, don’t push yourself too much. It’s okay.

Best of luck and much light to you. <3

My sympathies -hugs-

My sister died a few months ago. Between that and major health issues for myself, my mother, and my elderly grandmother - I feel your pain.

My advice is - one second at a time. None of this “one day at a time” cr*p. That’s far too long to focus.

I agree with @baileyanne - let writing be your respite. Don’t let it be another stressor.

And if you need a Grieving Buddy, I’m always at the end of a NanoMail.

Much love!

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A particular 2016 event whammied a lot of people right as the month was starting.

The first rule is that Real Life Comes First. Self care is the most important thing after something like this. So, we can’t answer this question for you. Do what’s best for you.

That said, some people do find creative outlets can really help channel the darkness. I’m one of those. When I’m down, I write angsty, belty music or trashy hurt/comfort fanfic, and I find those things highly cathartic. Heck, my project for upcoming NaNo is motivated primarily by catharsis due to stuff happening in real life.

But you don’t have to do this if that doesn’t work for you. This is up to you and your own style. The big thing is that you shouldn’t feel like you need to fake it. There’s no reason to force yourself to be positive. Write for you, or put the keyboard a way and find other ways to get back up on your feet. Whatever you need.


my first year doing nanowrimo was a month and a half after my dad died. i was eleven at the time, so it’s a pretty different situation in that sense. personally i found it good for me - i had something productive i could lose myself in; something to daydream about, occupy my attention, think about, that didn’t require me to interact with other people if i didn’t want to.
i found write-ins to be a really warm and welcoming environment even as a really really shy kid; i didn’t interact much with anybody at them, but it felt nice to go somewhere and be a part of a group. part of the world, i guess. nobody expected anything from me except that i would be there and be writing.
writing can be a really valuable escape, if that’s what you need. it can also be a way to externalize your feelings, to put them on somebody else and look at them from a distance. it can be good for venting, catharsis, etc. that said, if you don’t think you’re up for it, you don’t have to do it. nanowrimo is for fun; if it’ll just be a miserable slog, don’t do it.

i hope you’re able to find peace & healing sooner rather than later. strength and solidarity :heart:

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Last year, my husband’s grandmother who lived with us died just days before Halloween. It threw off NaNo for all of us, even me as an ML. Like everyone else has said, writing should be a respite for you, and if it’s not, then allow yourself to take a break, or lower you personal goal, whatever will cause you the least amount of stress.

And my condolences to you.

This isn’t nearly as bad as everyone else, but I’ll toss my woes in anyway.

There’s been a lot of family drama going on since June. With the holidays starting in November, I really hope it doesn’t interfere with writing. November is sacred to me. This is the only time of the year I put everything else on hold and focus on writing. It’s healthy and cathartic for me.

I want a break to indulge for a 30 days. I’m stressing about having to deal with everything going on when all I want to do is lose myself in this beautiful world I created. I deal with ‘real life’ for 11 months of the year. I need this time to myself.

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I’m so sorry - that has to be crushing.

In 2017, my husband quit talking to me for six weeks and then announced our marriage was over. It was completely out of the blue, and when he refused to move out… well, I was unable to write the entire summer and early fall. And then NaNo offered a creative writing course in conjunction with Wesleyan through Coursera. It was a literal lifeline. The feedback on my writing and the deadlines were exactly what I needed to pull myself up and out and move forward.

It worked for me. I don’t know that it would for everyone, but having the structure and accountability to a group of like-minded people was just what I needed to re-focus.


Also, lots of people give the advice to “write it out,” but in reality, sometimes it’s just too painful. Above all else, listen to yourself and treat yourself as you would treat your best friend going through the same thing, with great care and love. <3

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In 2011, my husband’s grandfather died the first week of NaNo. I spent the weeks prior and after dealing with family stuff. That was the only year I’ve lost NaNo and I don’t regret it. Sometimes other stuff comes first.

His grandmother died a few years later, also in November. I used NaNo as a distraction to keep me moving. It was a welcome relief to have something else to think about.

NaNo can either drop off your priority list or become a coping mechanism. Let it be whatever it needs to be for you at this time.

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So sorry for your loss, that must be so upsetting.

Please feel entirely free to do whatever is best for the you that now exists, not the you that existed before Friday. If you feel that exerting control over something would be helpful, NaNoWriMo could give you a chance to be in charge of your story, your characters, and at least a portion of your time each day. But if you feel overwhelmed or exhausted, go ahead and ditch it, or ditch the wordcount, or be a rebel and change your goals as often as you need to.

So far one of the biggest things I’ve ever learned about handling my distress/grief is that it’s actually okay to break promises to myself. That might not sound very inspiring, but I try to think of myself as an evolving being with an ever-changing set of variables affecting me and waiting for me to affect them. And it makes sense that evolving beings can adapt their commitments to new situations and stresses.

Regardless of what you do in November, I hope you find yourself surrounded by support and compassion.

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My condolences. :frowning: That has to be rough, especially around this time of year.

I haven’t been in a similar situation around NaNo time before, so no advice on that front. But whether you use writing as a distraction or a respite or even set it aside, that’s okay and valid as long. <3

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, hope you like it here.

I’m deeply sorry about what you’re going through. Please accept my condolences.

Keep in mind November is still 2 months off, and you may feel very different then than you do now. Noveling can help make things better when you’re down, as can going to write-ins and being around people. Don’t expect it to be miserable in advance; you might be surprised by how not-miserable it is.

With this in mind, please also remember that NaNoWriMo is a challenge people do for Fun. If it’s not Fun, you are free to change the rules (lower wordcounts, write fluffy short fics instead of a novel, draw pictures, just hang out at write-ins and eat candy, etc.) to suit yourself. Or quit entirely, if you really want. Don’t make turkey winter blah month any more burdensome than it has to be.


That’s awful! My sympathies to you and your family :heart:
Loads of other people have given excellent advice and all I can really add is that nano is totally optional and it doesn’t matter if you don’t win. The great thing about nano is that it happens every year, so if you need to take a year off there’s always next year and you won’t have missed much.
Take good care of yourself :sparkling_heart:

Thank you everyone.

I might try and drag myself through the prep 101 course they have on the site and see if that lights anything in me.

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You got this. Have fun!

Don’t drag yourself through it. Just drag yourself to it and get started. It might be all easy from there, you never know ^^

I had a quick look at the NaNo Prep pdf and tbh, those “character questionnaires” are not my thing, never have been, but the “plot structure” stuff looks more useful. I would suggest you pick and choose whatever exercises appeal to you. Don’t make this hard. It doesn’t have to be hard.

Listen to your heart, or your gut, or wherever your feelings come from. What does that part of you really want to hear a story about, right now? That’s the story to work on. Write what you want to read.

lots of hugs…