It’s my favorite time of year again.

The days are growing shorter, the air cooler, and people are running the streets dressed as all manner of spooky, sexy, scary and silly beings. As if that weren’t enough, there’s candy, turkey, stuffing, and candied yams everywhere you go, and the foliage that the Big Apple is known for is in full glory. And yet, there’s a far more intriguing aroma in the air.

Fresh paper and stale coffee, mixed with the scent of desperation and unwashed bodies.

Oh yes. It’s time for NaNoWriMo 2012.

Writing a fifty-thousand word novel in thirty days may seem like the final circle of Dante’s Inferno to some people, but it is without a doubt my favorite crazy undertaking of the year. Two years ago, in 2010, I completed my first manuscript, and it is impossible to describe how amazing that feels. Even if your book is the worst thing you’ve ever read, seen, or smelled, you can’t help but smile at the stinking mess that you’ve made. Hey, it’s warm and it’s yours, right?

The real magic is, somewhere along the way you actually fall in love with your novel. And maybe it’s really not good. But the entire month works to prime the pump of your creativity. You may have 49,500 words of crap, but even that would leave you with one really good page (1%). We all have better ratios than that. And I’m willing to bet that not many people have ever attempted to really write that much anyway.

Over the last few years, I have consistently made determinations to indulge more frequently in my creative pursuits. None of them are paying the bills right now, and so year after year, those determinations get swept under the rug in the pursuit of more immediate and less artistic goals. But something odd has been happening lately. I’ve noticed a growing sense of sadness that haunts those dusty dreams, and that terrifies me. At twenty-three, I am starting to see how and when people give up on themselves and their dreams. And it starts with paying the bills.

NaNoWriMo is an one-month crash course in learning to carve time out of your schedule—whatever kind of schedule it is—and focus on a goal that is much bigger and ultimately (gasp!) more valuable than your paycheck. Focusing on a creative project in our downtime refreshes us, and it gives us a chance to live our lives fully and free of resentment. We then cease to carry bitterness and baggage with us into our less fun, but necessary endeavors, making us better in every aspect of our lives.

I know, I know: you don’t have time to write a novel. But when will you? Will you ever be able to make the time to pursue something you’ve always wanted and never done? Or will you continue to push it to the side because you’re just too busy/tired/broke?

The same logic stops people from exercising, quitting smoking, going back to school, starting a family, and asking for a raise.

What doors have you closed lately?
If you’re ready to open them again, click here.

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