I Failed NaNoWriMo But Won the Jackpot — Freedom

It took me a while to realize there are a time and place for every dream. Trying to force it only results in pain.

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I slept so well last night. So much so that my parents freaked out that they couldn’t wake me in the morning. I don’t remember a night in recent history where I was so deep in slumber.

I hope it continues.

A decision I had made yesterday — a big one — led to sleeping so well. I admitted defeat on NaNoWriMo.

But it wasn’t just the challenge itself that I had given up. I had sacrificed so much more. All of that emotional baggage weighed on me.

What changed, you ask? Aside from the fact that as of writing these words, there are less than 5 hours until November ends?

Here, let me explain.

I Was Suffering From a Lot of Stress

During the last few months leading to November, all I could think about was my fantasy world. I recounted to myself how to get it published, how much work there is, and how little I had accomplished so far.

This need to create more ruled my nights after work, or my commutes to work in transit. I would wake up early in the mornings or stay up late at night and attempt to do anything that advanced this goal.

Usually, when you wake up at 5.30 AM after going to bed at 1 AM, you immediately snooze your phone and go back to sleep. No questions asked. The thoughts I would have in those few waking moments before going back to sleep would be something between “WTH am I doing?”, “I can write tonight”, and “Nope. Can’t do it.”

I would loathe myself for my lack of accountability towards my writing and personal commitments. What are you doing, Oren? Will you ever get published? Those were my usual thoughts.

During evenings when I had some free time to write, I realized I lacked a writing plan. Not only was I pantsing my way through the story, but I also didn’t have a side-document to list characters and important events.

As the need to go back and remember things I wrote happened more and more, the difficulty in writing increased — I mentally associated writing with a monumental and challenging task.

What do humans do when they are facing an enormous task without a plan? You guessed it! They procrastinate.

Procrastination wasn’t the only affliction I experienced these last few months. There were other health issues too.

Lack of Sleep Almost Drove Me Insane

If there is one sentence you take away with you from this entire story, let it be this one:

“Sleep is God. Go worship.”
― Jim Butcher

I took my nights for granted. The human body requires sleep, and that interferes with my plans. It’s like when you’re a workaholic and the weekend interrupts with your work.

I wasn’t sleeping enough, and I wasn’t even present to realize what I was doing to myself. That happens when you wake up unrested and rush out the door without glancing at your reflection in the mirror.

When you’re suffering from sleep deprivation for a few days straight, there comes a time when you feel as though your soul threatens to leave your body. Your lungs work harder, your pulse is higher, your energy is limited, and you eat more.

But there was one thing that surprised me. At work, I was clear-headed and sharper than other days. Was this my mind trying to solve the problem or at least put the energy in the right places? I have no idea. I’m not a neurologist. The flow of code I wrote during those days was incredible.

On such a sleep-deprived day, I realized part of my mistake.

I Was Writing For Money — Not Creativity

When I came to think of it, I had a different perception of what it meant to be an author in 2019.

I thought publishing a book will help solve my financial problems. For a moment in time, I believed I would shift my career to writing. That is one of my deepest dreams. I won’t lie.

Now, let’s make something clear; I’m not naïve. Publishing one book will solve my financial issues? I know it doesn’t work like that. My thinking came from how easy publishing has become on Amazon.

You publish a book, Amazon takes their cut from your sales, and you don’t have to pay for printed versions because Amazon prints your book by demand. Sounds fantastic, no? Well, it takes a lot of time!

My subconscious battled that decision with all its might. You must use a deterministic solution for survival. For example, a salary. That is foreseeable, consistent (usually), and clear.

My mind can’t fathom how much I’ll make from selling a book. The effort is enormous for an unknown reward. It can’t be a reason to write a book — even if you want to write that book for other purposes.

Writing a book for money will not work. Ever.

I tried to write in peace, but my self-imposed timelines and limitations still shackled me.

Making my book a dream unrelated to my financial endeavors only made things worse.

I Became Self-Aware of My Circumstances

It’s a basic rule of thumb to take stock of your resources before you dive into “doing” something new.

You wouldn’t start an advertisement campaign for $2500 if you didn’t know you had that money to spend.

I assumed I had more time than I did. In my mind, I wanted to complete the book yesterday but wasn’t aware that I needed time to take care of myself, too.

A person needs time to exercise, sleep, and — what we all ignore — to unwind. Yeah, you need to take the time to plan rewards, too. That TV show shouldn’t remain on the watch list that you never watch.

As a person working full time, it’s imperative to schedule your out-of-office plans. I had a To-Do list, but more than anything, I needed a schedule.

With my lack of sleep, I wasn’t in the mood to make one. Ever.

When November came around, and NaNoWriMo began, the pressure only went up and away. I was losing it over days when I didn’t write. Hell, I spent the first three days of November unable to write, and that freaked me out.

This challenge wasn’t working, and I was ruining my life.

So I quit.

I don’t regret it.

I Quit My Dreams to Change My Circumstances

If I had to make one to-do list that spans every project I ever started, it would probably fill an entire notebook.

I’ve always been good at getting things started. Still, because I’m so overly worried about my financial situation, I ditch the projects that don’t progress fast enough or basically — every project.

It’s a harsh truth to realize you’re not available for anything other than surviving at the moment.

I’m 32 years old, and I’m in debt. My life is not stable. What happens if I lose my job? I live at my parents’ house so I’ll have a place to stay, but my bank would go nuts. I’ve already had a glimpse of that once, and I don’t need more.

What I need is an anchor.

Making my dreams come true would have been great if I had done it ten years ago. I was free of debt, mentally available, and not in a hurry to cross-off life goals like getting married or becoming a father.

It’s easy to wallow in what-ifs and could-haves, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

Now I need to fix my life.

Let The Fun Begin

I wrote a piece on my Hebrew blog, declaring I was going on Hiatus and shared it with my Facebook friends. One of them wrote this comment (translated from Hebrew):

“You took the long route to understand that things need to flow, don’t force it. I hope this journey will not make you forget it so soon. And good luck. Now the real fun begins.”

Yeah, freedom. I can finally relax and do things on my own terms.

It was hard admitting to myself that I can’t invest in a book right now. I have long work days anyway, so now stress myself even more? No, that’s not a good solution.

I can finally unwind, watch something I love, play a game. I can also take the time to exercise and improve my body. I’m working in an office job, so I sit so many hours every day. When I came home and wrote, I sat even more. I’m killing myself like this.

This way, bit by bit, I will change my circumstances and will also lead a more fulfilling life.

The other part of this equation is solving my money problems more traditionally. I need to make more income streams than just my salary to make the process faster.

Luckily, I can use ghostwriting to do that. I can also create courses that are short-term endeavors to record and edit. Recording a course will not take up so much of my time that I’m continually exhausting myself.

There are many options available. All of them require paying money to save my time and getting something in return that might increase my income.

I’m okay with making these expense bursts. The significant benefit here is saving time and effort.

I have renewed respect for my time nowadays, and you should value yours, too.

Written by

Engineer, Dragon lover, and Blogger. He/Him. @theorencohen on Social Media. Visit my home: https://thegeekwriter.com

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