April 18th, 2014.
I should be at 18,000 words in my novel right now.
For this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve set my word-count goal at 30,000 words– obviously the story wouldn’t be resolved by then, but it at least serves as a goal of what I want to reach before the end of the month. It’s not quite as high as 50,000 yet not as low as the 15,000 I did in my first year of YWP NaNoWriMo.
Trouble is, I’ve gotten myself into a situation where I’m about four thousand words behind schedule.
My current word-count is 14,420. I’ve actually had plenty of chances to write in the past week, but I tend to get distracted very easily. Whether it’s Tumblr or Tiny Tower or chasing butterflies around with my dog, something always seems to completely change my mindset away from the writing one. Heck, I even got distracted just now talking to my fish instead of writing up this blog post.
As of now, though, I have officially decided that for the next three days (basically today through Sunday) I am going to write at least three thousand words per day. This may not seem like much when you look at it closely, but I’ve learned that words add up quite fast.
The point is, I’ve decided that it’s time that I share some of my probably-not-completely-wise-and-experienced wisdom from experiences with writing and falling behind schedule.
1. First of all, IT’S OKAY!
I mean, of course you don’t necessarily want to fall behind, but sometimes things happen. It’s alright to be set back a couple thousand words because you haven’t gotten a chance to write that particular week– it’s not too hard to catch up on your free time. And since I’ve made a Twitter account and started following the NaNo Word Sprints account, I’ve found that I’m even more motivated to get my ideas out onto the page.
2. Find motivation to move forward.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a good critique/writing partner or a bag of Swedish Fish you will only eat after completing a certain number of chapters; just try to figure out what gets YOU excited and driven to work more. Set some goals for yourself and go out to reach them. Having “word-wars” with some of my friends is a lot of fun for me, since it pushes me to write more by introducing the idea of a competition… see what works for you!
3. Don’t stress out!
Just relax and enjoy yourself. My novel is like a little paradise for me to escape to, like a little world that I can dive into and create for myself. I can control every single thing that happens in it, and thinking about that makes me happy. And if you need a break after working for some time, then take it! Get up, walk around, eat a snack (I personally prefer chocolate), maybe even take a nap. This goes for not just writing, but life in general; it’s much easier to have fun with what you’re doing if you let down your hair and stretch out those mental muscles a bit. What makes you happy?
4. Seek new inspiration and ideas
If you’re stuck with writer’s block, what do you do? A while ago I would just give up and stop. I would figure, “well, this isn’t going anywhere anyways, so why should I try anymore?” DON’T DO THAT! Your writing is worth it, your story is worth it, you are worth it. When you’re feeling down and out about your work, try to look at it from a different point of view. If the little idea-lake in your brain has gone into drought, find a way to make it rain. Listen to music, go for a run, doodle a bit. Get your thoughts going again and maybe it’ll give you a fresh, new sight.
5. Reward yourself!
When you achieve your goal, treat yourself to a little something (maybe you can eat those Swedish Fish now). Remember that little victories are victories too– all big projects have to start small or they won’t get anywhere in the first place. So congratulations, you just completed something you were working towards!
And there you have it, Arya’s crash course to continuing writing when you’re stuck in a ditch. Noveling (or story-ing in general) can be tough, yes, but approaching it with a good mindset to move forward can make a huge impact on how you feel about it at the end.
Now, go out and get something done! 🙂