Psyching yourself out: How not to win #NaNoWriMo

Mean Neo

Some days. that’s how it goes…

I see so many people give up on their work in progress, especially during NaNoWriMo, because the going gets rough, or they lose faith in the story they’re telling before it’s done.

Well, okay, I did exactly that last year. I wrote almost 10,000 words in Reality Check 2 (working title), decided it was “way too complicated” and said that “Even I got lost while writing it”. But that’s what NaNo is about, being experimental, trying something new. I had a variety of other excuses, including starting a week late, and having a lot of stress in other areas of my life.

And, I’ll admit, the novel I chose for NaNo this year is one I’ve been trying to write since 2011. Mean Spirit made it to nearly 10,000 words too before it fizzled and got shelved.

I went into this month under the dark clouds of depression, one that had lingered for a couple of months prior. I also had just finished the first draft of another writing project (my upcoming Trans-Continental: Mississippi Queen) and felt I might have run the well dry. I’d established an easygoing writing habit of an hour per day, a few days a week, and felt daunted at the prospect of cranking my word factory back up to a blistering ~2000 word a day output, nearly every day, for a month.

I couldn’t help but think: “How the hell did I do it the other times?” It seemed like those days were in the past.

But here’s the thing: NaNoWriMo is exciting. During those 30 days, the novel is always buzzing in the back of my mind. It’s what I talk about to other people (sorry, Amy). It’s what I spend my alone time on. It changes from work to a way to recharge.

So, I skimmed through the Mean Spirit fragment I had, and rejected it. I started over. It just didn’t fit with what I’d written about Skye, the main character, since then. My new story picks up where Restless Spirit left off, and while many of the elements I had in the original try are there (Larry Fisher from Road Ghosts, a new character named Cassie, pukwudgies, and Skye trying to get by without her powers), the setting and order of events is different. And I’m MUCH happier with it. Things are going well, I blasted past the original ~10K and am up to 18,354 words, which meant I was just 21 words below “par” yesterday. Not bad for taking a day off on Tuesday, and expecting to be behind on weekdays.

So if you’re one of the crazies like me attempting to write a novel in a month, take heart: Even Neil Gaiman gets the blues.

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About ecgarrison

Author. Brewer. Gamer. Geek. Trans.
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