If you’re like many WriMos, you’ve had a pretty good start. You’ve been plunking down those words every day, maybe in fits and spurts, and you’ve kept up with the daily goal. Pretty soon–maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week–you’ll crash and burn in a puddle of incomprehensible failure. Why?
- The excitement wears off. Yeah, it’s pretty great to be one of the cool kids for a week or two, but meh. You don’t really get anything for it. People give you an attaboy and move on. Whoopie-^&%*ing-ding-fizz.
- Exhaustion sets in. As it turns out, writing is a skill, and every time you do it is a form of exercise. If you’re not used to using the muscles that make writing happen and all of a sudden dive in to cranking them to eleven every day, the same things happen that also happen when you start a new physical exercise program cold. Your muscles cramp, you get exhausted.
- Frustration nips at your heels. The story isn’t coming out the way you envisioned it in your head. The stuff isn’t happening. Or the stuff is happening too much.
- You ran out of ideas. You thought you knew where the story was going, but it took a weird turn someplace and you have no idea how to proceed. Or you’re doing fine with what you planned, but it’s turned out to only be enough planning for a short story.
- You need to do the laundry. And take a shower and eat and sleep. If you’ve skipped out on self-care and household chores, you’re either living in filth already, starving to death, or living with irritated people who’d like you to make a damned meal or pick up your damned socks once or twice.
- That thing called “work” or “school”. Your boss/teacher doesn’t give a crap that you have goals and dreams. They want your work done or they’ll withhold/downgrade your paycheck/grade. You don’t want to get fired/fail.
- Something else–a medical problem, a family emergency, friend drama, your kids need you, your DVR is full so you either have to watch something or lose your favorite episode of [whatever] forever, etc.. Stuff happens. Life gets in the way.
What can you do to prevent/ameliorate this (in order)?
- Reaffirm the reasons why you started in the first place. Whatever they are, remind yourself and remember why they’re important to you.
- Take a day off. Write a little bit to stay with your story, but otherwise, watch some TV, read a book, take a walk, meet some friends for a bit. Let your brain chill and percolate. One day off can do a lot for you.
- Suck it up, buttercup. That’s how writing works. Add a comment to anything truly hideous and move on. Now is not the time to edit.
- See #2.
- Ew. Do some laundry and take a shower. Eat. It’s writing, not an Olympic event. Set boundaries and limits. Your health–physical and mental–is significantly more important than NaNo. If this is what you have to do to get your daily word count, maybe NaNo isn’t for you. Maybe you’re better off scaling back your goals to better suit your life.
- Priorities. Paycheck > NaNo. School > NaNo. Do what you can. Whatever you write this month will be that much progress toward your goals.
- Nothing. Life happens. Keep your risks low by not doing stupid crap like drunk driving and you’ve done all you can. Remember, NaNo is just a program to help you meet a goal. It’s not a contest. Winning doesn’t get you anything but a sense of accomplishment and a first draft of a novel, and maybe some attaboys. Losing isn’t a statement about your moral character or work ethic. NaNo winners are good at doing NaNo, they’re maybe good at writing. That’s it. Winning NaNo doesn’t get you a publishing contract, it doesn’t sell books, it doesn’t make you famous, it doesn’t fulfill anyone’s dreams. It’s supposed to be fun. If it’s not, stop and don’t look back.
Happy writing, folks. Seriously.