Last year, my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, was a breeze. I hit the 50,000 mark on day 14. I knew the story and had all the time in the world to write when I wanted. I spent a whole day at my computer and only got up for food and bathroom breaks. I even started a second book around the 20th just to see how far I could get. Yes, I went a little overboard.
I knew this NaNo was going to be a struggle. I have a job that doesn’t give me time during the day to write. I took a trip back to my alma mater and got less than 1000 words written during the first three days of NaNo. I’ve been playing catch up with the daily word count since Monday.
The frustrating thing is that I keep typing away yet still see that daily gap stay the same. Seeing I’m behind is hard to accept. I have a 4,000 word deficit to the daily goal that is screaming at me to get my act together. The only way you get those words is by sitting down and typing.
As competitive as I am, I’m still going to keep typing away, but sometimes my competitiveness isn’t enough. Here are some of the things I’m doing to stay motivated that might help you.
Ignore the stats
I’ve hidden my word count number on Scrivener. I found myself typing a paragraph then checking to see if my word count jumped by 1000 words. Sometimes I’d write just a few words and find myself checking it. I couldn’t handle it. Now it takes effort to find the word count, which is a total waste of time, so I find myself typing longer.
I also stopped looking at the NaNo stat tracker. Every time I take a break I will update my word count (gotta keep those daily streaks going), but I never go to the stats page. Otherwise I’d be just as frustrated again.
Stay away from other people’s stats
Stop comparing yourself to others, Laura! Everyone writes at their own pace and you can’t be frustrated with yourself for other people being farther along than you. Of course, encouraging others and cheering them for their successes, even the small ones, is a great way to fuel the writing community. We all need a little encouragement, so if you can do that without comparing yourself, I’m all for it.
On the topic of comparison…
Just like you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, don’t compare yourself to the past. I was annoyed knowing that last year I had already reached the 20,000 word mark by this time. I had to remind myself that my life circumstances were much different back then. I had already had a full day of nothing to write, something I haven’t had the chance to do yet this year.
Think about your story when you aren’t there
When you find times you can’t write, think about your story instead. Don’t let your inner editor make you think about your imperfect first few chapters, though. Make sure you are thinking about and crafting your future chapters. The more you can develop and solidify in your head, the easier it’s going to be to write when you get the chance to do so.
Quiet that inner editor… again
While I’ve tried to send my inner editor on a vacation during November, she still seems to be checking emails. She doesn’t show up via the delete key but she has a tendency to judge every sentence before I have a chance to write it. I find myself trying to craft the sentence correctly before I put it down rather than flying by the seat of my pants and dealing with the mess later. Remind your inner editor that she’ll have her fun in January, but for now it might be better if you turn off service to her phone or email for the remainder of the month.
Be aware of your “wasted time”
Writers love to come up with new ways to procrastinate their writing. If you’re like me, you procrastinate writing by… writing! I find writing non-fiction and helpful articles, such as this one on Medium or some on my personal blog, helps me get in the writing mindset without burning my brain on the story.
Breaks are good, and healthy, but when your breaks turn into time wasters, you need to reevaluate. Setting time limits on my social media accounts helps me manage those time wasters. Having a set number of articles or things to read during breaks helps too, as long as I don’t spend more time looking for the right things to read.
It’s okay if the words aren’t coming as quickly as you hoped. Give yourself some slack. November is 30 long days and it’s only the 6th. Now, don’t go procrastinating too long, but also forgive yourself if you aren’t quite up to speed yet. You will get there, especially as your story takes off.
Here’s to all of you behind-pace writers during NaNo. May the words start to flow, continue to flow, and burst out of you at a steady stream. There are still so many days left in November and we got this!!
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