So, I withdrew from NaNoWriMo and the forums today. It was a personal decision based almost entirely on the reaction I had to their new stats page for author word count tracking. The stats page marks you as “unsuccessful” from 12:01am on Nov 1 until you get 1667 words or more on your updater. It assumes that you have already failed before the day even starts. The same thing happens the next day, even if you got 10,000 words on day 1. Day 2 is “unsuccessful” until you put in 1667 positive words on the updater.
Now, I can see how a lot of people wouldn’t so much care about that. And I can see how a lot of people find that sort of wording discouraging to say the least. For me, the more I thought about it, the madder I got. I ended up having actual vivid flashbacks of all those times as a kid growing up in a house with dirt floors, with an emotionally abusive mom and brother. The times when I was told over and over and over again, at the start of everything I did, that I was a failure, that I would never succeed, that I was “unsuccessful.” The times when my own internal voice started to mimic that abuse and I told myself, I was unworthy, stupid, slow, and incapable of success.
I haven’t had flashbacks like that in almost 15 years, but NaNoWriMo, a supposedly fun, care-free event meant to let people release the inner demons that keep them from writing managed to bring one on. I spent all my morning writing time literally in tears, trying to get myself back together.
I have worked very, very hard to believe that I am smart, capable, and worthy of encouragement, love, and support. I surround myself with people who love and respect me, who are encouraging even when I dream big. Who celebrate my successes without tallying up my failures and holding them against me. Most of all, those people believe in me. They tell me that I can accomplish my goals, that I can win, and that I am valuable and worthy and smart and good even when I don’t hit my targets.
I could try to prove the NaNo stats page wrong – I’ve been proving my mother wrong my whole life. But I won’t. I refuse to play that game for a stupid, supposedly fun, event. I deserve to be told I can succeed, not that I’ve already failed before I even have a chance to try.
And so do you.