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How Can I Reclaim My Narrative During NaNoWriMo?

When you live with substance use disorder (SUD), your life can feel out of control. You may feel like your mental illness holds all the power. Also, your actions can feel compulsive instead of chosen. As you go through treatment and recovery, it’s important that you find a way to reclaim your narrative. National Novel Writing Month—more commonly called NaNoWriMo—offers you an opportunity to reflect on and write about your experiences.

What Is NaNoWriMo?

Every year on November 1st, people take on the NaNoWriMo challenge. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. If you spread it out so that you wrote every day of the month, you would need to write approximately 1,700 words every day to meet the goal.

Because the challenge is so open-ended, you can write either fiction or non-fiction. You might benefit from a fiction story loosely based on your life if you need a degree of removal from painful experiences. On the other hand, writing an autobiographical story allows you to reflect more emotionally on your mental health journey.

Planning Your Narrative

When you’re beginning to plot out your NaNoWriMo story, you should decide where you want to start and stop. You might decide to start from an initiating traumatic event. On the other hand, you might prefer to begin in a quieter moment in your life. If you don’t know where you want to stop, that’s okay. It can sometimes help to leave the stopping point open-ended.

Once you’ve narrowed the focus of your story, you should write out the major events you want to include. Don’t worry about the details for the moment; you can flesh them out when writing. After you’ve outlined the major plot points, you should decide on a theme and mood. What do you want a reader to come away from it thinking and feeling?

Writing and Reflecting

Now that you’ve laid out the basics, you can start writing your story. Ideally, if you’re writing about your own life, you should schedule a little time after each writing session to sit and reflect on your story. You may find yourself connecting with your experiences more fully. Additionally, you might even surprise yourself when reading back what you wrote. Your retrospective narration voice could give you insight into how you’ve changed with time.

Once you finish the NaNoWriMo challenge, you can decide what to do with your story. You can keep it private. It’s completely okay not to let anyone else read it. However, you can also publish the story. You might want to share it with loved ones or even offer it to others earlier in recovery than you. After all, reading mental health recovery stories can help a person heal. No matter what you decide, you should feel proud of yourself. You reclaimed your narrative and told it through your perspective. That’s not an easy feat.

NaNoWriMo can help you reclaim your SUD narrative during your treatment and recovery journey. During the process, you will explore your past. You may find yourself needing emotional support as you dissect your life experiences. It can help to discuss your thoughts and feelings with mental health professionals. At The Guest House, our team can assist you in processing and reflecting on your NaNoWriMo challenge. We can also help you maintain your sobriety through aftercare. For more information on our SUD treatment, call (855) 483-7800.