NaNoWriMo ended two and a half weeks ago- seventeen days in the past that feels like seventy, or seven hundred. Looking at the calendar and realizing how recently it ended was confusing. I’ve been so mentally tired since.

My life was that project for a month; I wrote every single day, save for the one that I had left open to play Fallout 4 guilt free. 29 days of writing. It feels like I emptied my entire life into that novel, all of the motivation and commitment and creativity that I had to give. The aftermath has left me exhausted in ways that I never expected. It’s been seventeen days and I’m really only now starting to recover myself.

You’d think such over-dramatic suffering was due to a project that was highly personal. Maybe I wrote a very intense and emotional memoir or something?

Yeah no. I wrote a fantasy/sci-fi book about a war between an alliance of Ravens and Raccoons and a resistance led by an army of Squirrels.

52,240 words about post-apocalyptic animal societies.

Writing that story made me rethink so much of my process. It took my mind in directions I had never planned and allowed me to create characters that I grew to love and who I wish other people will love too. That requires me to allow someone to read the manuscript though. I have a mess of work to do before I can even hit that comfort level, so for now I continue to keep my creations to myself.

I went in to NaNoWriMo with an outline and a handful of character sheets. My story moved in the intended direction, but forcing myself to sit down and spew words out resulted in the creation of so many voices and places and side plots that I had never previously considered. I think the forced writing prompted me to take risks, to move plots in the direction my gut was telling me. I didn’t overthink- I just wrote. In the end the story is probably better for it.

I’ve went back a few times to start on edits, but I’m still digesting it all, pondering the various structural changes and aspects of world building that are needed to make it better. Now that I have the time to think and second guess everything the process has become so much harder. Not only are my deadlines gone, but my general creativity meter is still far from full. Editing feels more difficult than the initial writing ever was. I’ll make new deadlines though, and I will finish it, and let someone read it. I’m too proud of what I created to ignore it.

Sorry, this has been a ramble of a post. Creatively sapped, remember?

Anyway the point of this part bragging rights (I wrote a freaking novel!) and part introspection. NaNoWriMo made me realize that I don’t need to over plan. I don’t have to have a perfect outline with perfectly formed characters before I ever start on Chapter 1. That anxiety to organize has kept me from making that first step in the past, and now I know I can overcome that.

I just have to write. I can do it!