National Novel Writing Month is a huge challenge. Maybe you’ve tried it before, maybe not. This year is my seventh go at this event. And I’m failing. I’ve had difficulties in years past, but I’ve always managed to pull off a win. Through sheer stubbornness, I’m quite sure.
What’s different this year? I still work full time. I still have a husband and three children who need attention. I still have family obligations like birthdays and holidays. There are church activities like Christmas programs to prepare for. And the list goes on. The only thing I’ve added this year is that I’ve agreed to be the NaNo Municipal Liaison for my local region. This does add an extra layer of challenge to the event, but I should still be able to accomplish my goal.
So why am I falling behind?
This year I find myself falling victim to what I can only call self-sabotage. I’m staying up too late far too often. I keep turning on Netflix and browsing Facebook and Twitter. When I do write it’s with a sort of lackluster enthusiasm and my progress is slow.
I’m working my way through this issue as I frantically try to catch up on my word count. I haven’t beaten it yet, but I don’t intend to let it beat me. I’m a little stubborn like that.
In the mean time, here’s a little pep talk I shared with my regional Wrimos on dealing with the inevitable setbacks during NaNoWriMo.
Facing Setbacks During NaNoWriMo:
Has your November been fraught with challenges? Did your child get sick? Maybe you got sick? Did your family decide to all descend on your place for Thanksgiving? Your computer crashed?
These things and more can and will happen to someone during NaNoWriMo. Something may come up that absolutely knocks you flat on your back. And you wonder, how do I go on from here?
First, it’s perfectly acceptable to have yourself a good cry. That’s right. Take a minute, or ten, or an entire day if you need it, to focus on you. Be a little selfish and grieve for what you’ve lost.
Now, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and take a hard look at your situation. Is the month over? No? Don’t quit! If circumstances allow for it at all, just pick up what you can of the pieces and keep writing. Miracles can – and do! – happen. I’ve seen it.
Next, don’t be too hard on yourself. You haven’t failed. You started on this wild adventure unsure where it would take you. And look what you’ve done. You started a novel! That’s no small feat. Take pride in what you’ve accomplished. Even if it’s only a few hundred words. It’s a start!
Finally, get back to work. Once the issue has been resolved, move on with your novel. Allow yourself to come back and keep writing. Even if the 50k goal seems utterly unreachable.
Now, I understand not all setbacks are created equal. A sick child might only set you back a day. Or it could derail your whole month. I get it. The important thing is to look at the situation honestly. From experience, I can say it often isn’t as bad as it feels in the moment.
Be brave. Be honest with yourself. Be confident. Ask for help if you need to. You are not a failure. Keep at it. Maybe you won’t finish by November 30. That’s okay. Don’t quit. You got this!
In the words of Ray Bradbury: “You fail only if you stop writing.”