Monthly Archives: November 2013

When the NaNo Challenge Backfires

Last year I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time. It was awesome. Seeing that stats chart every day, with the little line to beat in order to meet the challenge was exactly what my brain needed to thrive. I pushed myself, got off to a strong start, and never looked back. I stayed ahead of the curve the whole month, even when I had to take a few days off near the end due to a family health emergency.

Well, this year’s different. First, I’m doing hours of editing instead of words written. That wasn’t really an issue, though. I got off to another strong start, averaging nearly 2.5 hours per day (my equivalent of 2500 words) for the first six days or so. But getting ahead early just wasn’t enough.

Last week, I went in for surgery. It was a scheduled surgery, something I knew was coming, and shouldn’t involve an arduous recovery. It was still surgery. And it kept me from doing any novel editing for two days. I only got in a half an hour on the third day, none again on the fourth, and only an hour on the fifth. Needless to say, I’m now quite a way behind the curve.

This is where that little motivational progress line backfires. “I’m already so far behind; how will I ever catch up now?” my jerkbrain asks.

“Well, you’ll never even have a chance if you don’t sit down and do something,” practical brain replies.

They go at it back and forth, bringing in points about other things that need to be done around NaNoWriMo, too: grocery shopping, a book review, bill paying… I still don’t know which one of them is going to win by the end of the day.

For  now, though, they’re both losers. “Nap. Now!” bellows recuperation brain.

If you need me, I’ll be huddled under my down comforter.

Individual WriMo Challenges

A lot of folks who participate in NaNoWriMo (“WriMos,” for short) look forward to the weekends so they can pound out a lot of words. They’re finally off work for a couple of days, and can dedicate more time to the challenge. Personally, I dread NaNo weekends.

You see, I don’t currently “work outside the home.” Writing is my day job, even though it’s never paid me a penny, nor is likely to any time in the foreseeable future. So when my kids go off to school and my hubby off to work, the only ones left in the house are the dog and me.

I’m not saying that makes it easy to get my writing done. Just like other WriMos, I have distractions. Social media, usually my primary link to the outside world, sing their siren songs, tempting me to waste hours catching up on the minutiae of my friends’ lives and developments in my fandom. Then there are the piddly things that always pull at the from-home worker: laundry, dishes, paying bills, grocery shopping… A typical day is not actually the lovely seven-hour stretch of uninterrupted writing time it might appear from the outside.

That is, of course, why I need NaNoWriMo in the first place. I need a way to hold myself publicly accountable, to force me to make the most of those hours, in between the chores and distractions. Having a specific goal makes it more likely that I’ll make time, shoving aside the things that can wait.

While a great many WriMos may be fitting their time in around full-time work, I’m fitting it in around young kids. That’s why weekends kind of suck for me. On Saturdays and Sundays, rather than hours of a one-canine-and-me household, the majority of my day is filled with energetic seven-year-olds desperate for some new craft project, bike ride, or other activity to occupy their time. Writing is hard enough for me when I only have to combat my own jumpy brain; it’s practically impossible to concentrate when two or three other people’s activities are competing for my attention, too.

I know I’m extremely fortunate to have the option not to hold down a regular job, and I count my blessings daily. On NaNoWriMo weekends, though, sometimes those blessings get on my nerves.