Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Hump Day! (My tricks to beating the midway NaNo blues.)

Happy Hump Day to all you NaNos! (NaNoers?)

Today is November 15th which means we are officially half way through NaNoWriMo. (otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month.) Good news is I reached 25k so I'm right on track with my word count. Bad news is, I wanted to throw my computer across the room yesterday. Yeah, it was one of those days, and I ended up with a severe case of the NaNo blues.

For those of you who have ever done the challenge, you probably know what I'm talking about. The first week of NaNo you've been anticipating the challenge and you're all excited to get started. Everything's new and fresh and fun! You write like the wind and you see that little green bar starting to make real progress.

Then week two arrives and you start to lose that zeal. You're not quite as excited and it's easier to get distracted by exciting things like Twitter (and writing blog entries like this one.) Plus, all the things you blew off last week while writing finally demand your attention. (ie: homework, grocery shopping, your son's seventh birthday...) Anyway, you miss your first word count or maybe it's your second or third. You start to fall behind, you're past the beginning of your story and have finally hit the point where things start to get complicated and writing feels a little bit more like actual work. And that damn green bar doesn't seem to be getting anywhere!!!

Well folks, now it's hump day. Officially half way. Which means begin week 3. And I'm here to tell you that week 3 will make or break you! Take it from someone who has failed the NaNo challenge for the past two years thanks to none other than the dreaded week three! It's seriously the worst. Most likely, you're a little behind and starting to feel how much you've got to make up to finish on time. But you're not really very close to the finish line yet either and it's starting to feel like November is THE LONGEST MONTH EVER. You start to wonder why you signed up for this stupid challenge in the first place. A finished novel? Who needs it!

When you get the NaNo blues don't let it beat you! This is not easy, but I promise it's worth it. Even if your novel isn't finished in 50k words, just hitting that goal and knowing you survived NaNo is motivation like no other. Your novel will be finished in no time after that. But if you give up and fail now your novel runs the risk of being bumped off the list of "recently opened" files in microsoft word. Trust me. My last year's project is still sitting at thirty whatever thousand words it was at when week three killed me.

So how do you pull through the nasty motivation-killing week three of NaNoWriMo? Here are a few things that have really helped me this year. (And look at me, hump day and I'm ahead of schedule!)

1. Stop mid scene! I read this blog not long ago and I can't remember the link, but it said to never stop writing after finishing a scene or (heaven forbid) a chapter. Okay, I do this. I SO do this. I finish a scene and it feels like a stopping point so I'm good to call it quits. The problem is, it makes it a lot harder to start up again. I finish a chapter and then it takes me like a week to go back to my story. Obviously not a good tactic when your on a NaNo deadline.

I experimented with this these past two weeks and I can't believe the difference it makes! When I'm feeling the need to take a break or have things I need to get done, I don't wait until I hit the end of a scene. I stop mid conversation. Sometimes even mid sentence. This has been the BIGGEST help. I walk away and it's like turning off the Radio mid-song. Worse than annoying everyone with singing Katy Perry's California Girls over and over again, I find myself literally saying the rest of the scene out loud. I can't get it out of my head and can't wait to get back to it. Then when I sit down, I also know exactly where I'm going and the next thing I know my daily word count was reached 800 words ago. Seriously try it!

2. Unplug! The Internet is your best friend, but during NaNo it's your worst enemy. Twitter? facebook? Glorious Youtube? JUST SAY NO! There is nothing worst than being in the middle of a scene and telling yourself you need to look something up. One quick visit to wikipedia and two hours later you're sending the link of Weezer vs. Toni Braxton or the latest Old Spice commercial to all your friends on facebook and you've written three sentences.

Here's what you do. You take your laptop to a place that doesn't have wi-fi or you turn off your airport. Disable the darn thing. If you physically can't connect you will get so much more work done. If you actually do need to look up some random fact for your story do this: Blah blah blah this is my sentence [insert random fact here] and continue on writing. If you can at all help it, look up research after NaNo. Needless to say this trick helps me a LOT. (when I can accomplish it. Clearly I am failing this one at the moment. But I'm justifying it by telling myself I might just help someone else.)

3. Get to know your local NaNoers! This one surprised me with how helpful it's been. Get to know the people around you who are doing the challenge. Hit up a write in. I've gotten to know the other people in my town who are participating and have added them as my writing buddies. We chat on the forum and have had fun at a few writ-ins. It has been so motivating to be doing this challenge with people I have met in person. We are all cheering each other on, and it just means more somehow now that they are more than screen names. (Special shout out to all my Arizona-Elsewhere peeps! We're rocking it this year. Keep it up!)

If you're leery of meeting people on the internet or can't make it to a write-in or live in the boonies, find a friend who likes to write and bully them into doing the challenge with you. Strength in numbers, I'm not even joking. Even having just one person doing it with you can make all the difference in the world.

And finally...

4. JUST DO IT. Having a bad day? Writing a tough scene? Just force yourself to push through it. Even if you don't finish the scene or don't hit your word count for the day, MAKE YOURSELF WRITE at least a little bit EVERYDAY! It's hard to have to force yourself, but if you do it anyway, you'll feel better about yourself since you didn't give up and you'll get a small kick of motivation.

So there you have it. Kelly's tricks for beating the NaNo blues. NaNo, like everything else in life, is work. Hard work. But it's very worth it. You learn a lot about yourself as a writer, and you develop important habits that make for a successful career. Plus, if you can just finish that first novel, writing forever on will be much easier because you'll realize that it is in fact possible to write a book. Just remember that writing the novel is only the first step. Where November is National Novel Writing Month, December should be National Novel Editing month.

Good luck everyone! And to all my fellow NaNoers, if you've discovered any helpful tricks, by all means, do share!

For those of you curious what the pesky little green progress bar looks like, here's mine... MsKelly

And because I know you're dying to know now... Weezer Vs. Toni Braxton and the latest Old Spice commercial

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