How Pokemon Go is like NaNoWriMo overachieving

It’s no secret that I’ve been playing Pokemon Go since the constant server crashing days of July 2016. I remember coming out of a doctor appointment a day or two after the game came out, ready to take a long walk and hatch an egg, and facing the spinning Pokeball of death. I tried everything–restarting the app, logging out and back in again, even restarting my three-year-old Galaxy S4.

As I kept playing, I tried to catch them all (taking a long break in November to work on my NaNo novel, of course). I was never the very best but still had fun anyway. When Pokemon Go introduced raids and legendary Pokemon in mid-2017, I waited until the new gyms and raids were available to people of my level (33 or 34 at the time) and then went to town.

At some point after raids began, someone created a Discord server for Atlanta raids. I joined it, then eventually joined another group that concentrated on raids closer to me. And from there, I started chasing the legendary birds for the weeks that they were out. Eventually I got burned out and stopped doing raids, missing the chance to catch Articuno (my favorite, and the reason I chose Team Mystic).

But when I returned to raiding and participating in Pokemon Go Community Days, I got to know many other Pokemon Go players. Some of them had already coasted past my level. A few were even at the maximum level of 40, something that looked so far away for me at my (at the time) modest level 35 with over half the experience still to be gained.

It reminded me of doing NaNoWriMo–overachieving, to be specific. For those not familiar, overachieving is the term applied to Wrimos who write significantly more than 50,000 words in a month–or aim to write 50k faster than the 30 days allotted. People who do this are called overachievers (OAs for short), and if you think you’re an overachiever, we do too. The more I thought about overachieving, the more I realized Pokemon Go and overachieving have a few things in common.

Someone has done more than you. Whether that’s reaching 50k on day 3 and discovering that some people did that in one day, or you’re at level 39 two years later and encountering people who have level 40 on multiple accounts, someone out there has gone even farther in pursuing their game. (Yes, multiple level 40 accounts by one person exist; there are several folks in my local Pokemon Go scene who have level 40 main accounts and level 40 alts. I have enough trouble playing on one phone; I can barely imagine using more.)

People have different circumstances and time constraints, meaning less (or more!) time to devote to PoGo or writing. Someone with a full-time job and a family and other life/health circumstances will have less time to devote to Pokemon Go and writing than someone with fewer of these major life commitments. Some people play (or write) more casually than others. That’s fine.

You don’t see what goes into someone else’s playstyle. One of the terms we use in the overachiever community for people who type “slowly” compared to the 80+ wpm folks (but still fast compared to many other Wrimos) are lovably dubbed slugs. In fact, there’s a Slug Club for the slower typists. Many of these people overachieve by devoting more time to writing. Same with Pokemon Go–some people keep buying raid passes from the store with real money and get up at 6am to start raiding, while others (like me) spend very little money and rely on coins from gyms for raid passes and other items. Some Wrimos do type like the wind, which helps with getting words down. But in the end, what matters is showing up to write (or play). If you don’t show up, you can’t level up. Simple as that.

Sometimes you need a break and that’s okay. Burnout is real, both in Pokemon Go and writing. I got burned out on chasing every single raid for the first summer of raids, and I’m still trying to balance the delicate line of having fun with raids and burning out and wanting to do nothing for days at a time, only wanting to play silly puzzle games online and do nothing of productive value. But the same happens with NaNo and even for overachieving.

Oh, and one more thing: Your progress is still amazing, no matter what everyone else around you is doing.

I’ll never be the very best at NaNoWriMo, like no one ever was. Given what some folks have accomplished, I don’t really want to be. I’ll never be the very best at Pokemon Go either even though I reached level 40 recently (and the max level may be raised soon anyway, forever giving me something to chase). I’m pushing myself to the limit of what I find to be possible while still maintaining the rest of my life. Even better, I’m having fun while doing it, and that’s what matters.

2 thoughts on “How Pokemon Go is like NaNoWriMo overachieving

  1. Very well put! I got out of pokemon for a year or so, but when my bestie started playing again I sort of got dragged along for the ride. At least it’s getting me out of the house again, which is so important for me since I work from home. Lately with the heat I’ve mostly been walking the mall (with 2 pokestops and a gym), but at least I’m walking, which is much better than sitting on my sofa playing Stardew Valley (though that happens a lot too).

    I’ve always kept one toe in nanowrimo even though with college I basically sat out a few years. Both things have wonderful communities and good people and it’s great to feel welcomed!

    • It really is! I’ve heard a few horror stories, both in Pokemon and NaNo communities, but they are few and far between. All I need is to combine the two communities and my social life will be taken care of.

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