So, you’ve started mainlining caffeine, your friends and family have spent the last week getting offended by the auto-response on your email, and you’ve already forgotten what sunlight feels like. To add insult to injury, the battery on your laptop ran out on the train, there’s no paper left in your notebook, and the guy in the food carriage stubbornly refused to provide you with any further paper bags, no matter how many coffees you promise to purchase. You finally resorted to writing in very small, precise print (to maximise space you understand) on every available inch of skin you possess. Now people are starting to look at you funny…
Must be November.
Yes, NaNoWriMo is upon us, and if you are anything like me you are currently flailing.
It’s too early on for you to have settled into your groove, but it’s getting far enough away from the 1st that the novelty value has worn off. You’re starting to panic. Because, really, you haven’t the slightest idea what you’re doing.
Whether you’re pantsing or planning, in my experience everyone hits a Week Two Hump, wherein they either realise that pantsing it results less in a novel and more in a string of unrelated incidents (which may or may not have a character or two in common), or that planning goes pretty much to pot once you start writing and realise your ‘plan’ is missing numerous vital factors (such as a plot), and your characters refuse to do as they’re told.
Fear not however, for we are all in the same proverbial boat, awash in the same sea of prosaic confusion. Right now, it is high tide, and we’re all waiting for the swell to die down so we can stop panicking and go back to writing.
By next week you’ll not only have found your stride you’ll be happily skipping along making “pfft” noises in the general direction of your past-self, who’s such a silly worrier! This week, you just have to get over that hump. Keep working at it, even when drowning yourself in that massive cauldron of coffee you have brewing in the kitchen is looking increasingly tempting (whoever thought of putting NaNo directly after Halloween is a certifiable genius).
Don’t worry about your word count.
Try and hit it.
Try and hit it every day.
Try and stay ahead of the curve.
And keep trying until you come up with a valid reason to stop—you know, like you’ve run out of skin, and for some reason the homeless man who was asleep in the corner is refusing to come home with you, despite the fact he has half a chapter scrawled across the back of his parka.
Keep writing, even if it’s slowly.
And if you have a day when you don’t quite hit your target, don’t panic.
If there comes a day when you don’t write anything at all, don’t despair.
The best bit about Hump Week is that, once you get past it, and realise that you have roughly half of your 50K done, suddenly the other half doesn’t seem so impossible. Even if you’re only at a third, or a quarter of the way through, the fact that you’ve managed that much and not gone completely insane (homeless men aside), will spur you on. You’ll catch up if you need to. You’ll go racing ahead if you don’t.
So relax, take a breath…
…and try not to get arrested in pursuit of the perfect writing media.