Monday, 10 November 2014

NaNo Talk: The Dreaded Second Week Slump

November is known around the world as National Novel Writing Month, a time of the year when hundreds and thousands of people try to get 50,000 words down on paper in just thirty days. There’s something quite compelling about it and once you’ve taken part once it has a habit of drawing you back in, year after year.

This year while I’m taking part I’m also sharing some of my thoughts on the various stages of the month.

The second week is where things start to slow down for me. The first week is exhilarating, exciting. You’ve got this idea inside you and you’ve got the freedom to just vomit the words onto the page. You don’t care that that they don’t always make sense, this is a journey of discovery and you’re sharing it with people all over the world. You’re writing a novel dammit!

And then week two rolls around.

And you glance back at what you’ve written so far.

And suddenly word vomit seems like a very apt description for what you’ve accomplished so far.
Your momentum starts to slow down. Your wrists are aching. Your back is sore. You’re beginning to wonder whether it’s worth it.

This is a point for a big decision. If you really truly hate what you are writing, if you can’t stand the thought of another day at school or work or looking after the kids and then having to sit in front of the computer and pound out a couple of thousand words, then there is no shame in stopping. By the start of the second week, if you’re aiming for 1,667 words per day, you should have 11,669 words by this point; maybe more, maybe less. Whatever you’ve got, that’s more words than you would’ve had otherwise, right? Quite the achievement.

If you’re not wanting to quit yet, if you’re not loving your story but you know there’s still a spark of potential in there somewhere, this is the point where you need to suck it up and get over it. And keep writing. That’s the most important bit. Keep writing.

Though we should maybe address those achy joints and muscles too. Beside this is a challenge. It’s maybe not as obvious a challenge as running a marathon, but it’s going to take it out of you and you need to stay healthy while you’re doing it.

Make sure you’re taking regular breaks. If you’ve give yourself an hour to write, try getting up and doing some stretches after thirty minutes. Try typing for ten minutes and then take a five minute break to rest your wrists. If you find yourself encountering writer’s block, take the dog out for a walk in the fresh air to stretch your legs.

Oh, and get some healthy snacks to nom on while you write. Raisins, grapes, sliced apple. They don’t take up much room on your desk and you can pop them in your mouth each time you feel yourself reaching for the backspace key.

As for your story, well if you’re really struggling, why not hop over to the Adoption or Dares threads on the NaNo forum. Pick one at random and throw it into your story. So long as it gets you writing, even if it’s something you might edit out of the story later, it’s helping to get words on the page.

Just keep typing through the slump and hopefully you’ll come out on the other side feeling more energised and excited for your story than ever!

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