So far in this NaNo, I’ve learned a number of valuable lessons and I thought I should turn up here and share them. Also to let you know that, while NaNo hasn’t been going well so far, I’m not dead. Honest. Not even undead. 😉
The first weekend of NaNo went fairly well, wrote around 18k, including 10k that Sunday. I thought I was on a roll and that this would be as fun and wild a ride as the April and July camps were.
Then Monday hit.
I had trouble getting going from the moment I got off work. I got a bunch of other stuff done, but really didn’t feel it when I sat down to write. This is unusual for me and I’m not good at dealing with it apparently. I pushed a little, because not feeling it isn’t an excuse I allow myself, and managed to get to 1000 words or so painfully and with difficulty. I went to bed thinking, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better.”
It wasn’t. Same problem, same amount of productivity. No I didn’t start to panic. Okay, maybe I was a bit worried, and yes, definitely felt behind even though I wasn’t by any definition.
Wednesday was just as bad. Maybe worse. I swear, by that point I had zero attention span. I mean, I was distracted by EVERYTHING. Might even have gotten derailed by the sound of my own breathing at one point. It was that bad, people. And again with the 1k words that were a horrible struggle.
Thursday I gave up after about 250 words when I nearly cried at how little I could concentrate. I watched the first season of Supernatural again instead. Anything to distract myself. Yes, I did see the irony in this. Laughed all the way through my tears.
Friday I skipped #WriteClub and writing, though not without the constant, guilty feeling that I should be writing. In fact, by that point I felt so horrible about trying to write this book that I was more or less hiding from Twitter. I couldn’t bear to face anyone with my non-writing. I ate a bunch of chocolate and watched more Supernatural. Didn’t feel better. At all.
Saturday, I decided I needed to take some time away from even thinking about writing. As in not expect myself to, not try, not even think about opening Scrivener. I made a few notes about some other stuff I have cooking, but even that was a no-pressure thing. If the thoughts were there, I wrote them down. If they weren’t, I didn’t worry. Instead I went to see Thor: Dark World (I highly recommend that by the way. Want my own copy so badly right now). And watched more Supernatural. I swear, that show’s become my comfort food. Well, tv. Whatever.
Yesterday came and I was so miserable all morning that I knew I had to do something. This could NOT continue if I was to hold on to any semblance of sanity. Or at least my version of sanity, which is still kinda crazy. I sat down and had a long talk with myself. It may or may not have been out loud and my cats may or may not have attempted to participate. Not telling. 😉
What came out of this discussion was that, for a long list of reasons, I wasn’t mentally prepared for NaNo this year, and didn’t have my head in the story. More than that, I know there’s a problem with it. There has to be, for it to be fighting me so hard. I don’t know what that problem is though, and no amount of brainstorming has helped me figure it out so far. This does not bode well for me for NaNo this year.
So I gave myself permission to:
a) Not win NaNo this year. I’m super-competitive with myself about stuff like this, so this point is almost a miracle.
b) Not finish Rise Above for the present. I will eventually, once I know what the problem is. I want to close that trilogy and get the story out into the world but at the moment, I’d just be beating my head into a brick wall.
c) Work on something else. This is another minor miracle. I have nothing else prepared, but I really do feel like writing (thus the pain from not being able to get RA working right). This means I need to do something, so I am.
As a result, me and my steampunk vampire story are having a little fling. I sort of know where the story goes, in a very general way. So far, I’m essentially pantsing it, and I don’t expect to keep much of what I’m writing right now, but the words are flowing and for that I’m grateful. I’m also having some fun with it, though it’s still very early.
This path isn’t what I’d planned and it’s a little daunting because I like this story and I don’t want it to die on me. Historically, that’s what happens when I try to pants a whole novel. I get lost somewhere between 30-50k words. I’m hoping that won’t happen this time and maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ve learned enough about storytelling and construction to make it through. I have a rough idea of the shape, and I’m not rushing myself for once. This is both a first in a long while and a very good thing.
See, I realized during this crisis of non-writing that my expectations of myself have become utterly RIDICULOUS. Yes, that required caps because it’s that bad. When I first did NaNo, all I was shooting for was pace. 1667 words a day. Anything 2k and over made me happy. 4000 words in a day? Positively giddy! Now? 3k words in a night after the day job makes me feel incredibly lazy. On weekends it’s even worse. Under 5k and I ask myself what the hell I’ve been doing with my day.
That’s stupid. I know that, but I haven’t been able to rein it in. Now is the time to do that. I have a lot going on in my personal life that will mean I probably won’t be able to devote 10-12 hours a day to drafting anymore. And that’s okay. I need some balance. I need to learn to be more reasonable too. Besides, the things that are taking up some of that time are wonderful, amazing things that make my life so much better. I’m lucky enough to have some very special people in my life these days.
I just need to learn to set myself reasonable expectations for myself.