Last week writers in the US hit a major bump in the NaNoWriMo road: Thanksgiving holiday. This is an extra-long weekend. Kids typically are out of school from Wednesday until Monday. Spouses might have this time off, too. Family is coming to visit, or you’re going to see family. All that time you might have had to write is usurped by housecleaning, shopping, traveling, cooking a 25 pound turkey, baking four kinds of pie, making the house look festive, and entertaining guests.
Even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m sure everyone has run into a major life hurdle that has threatened to kick you out of the NaNo race. Perhaps you were sick, or you had to work extra shifts, or you have to make 500 clothespin angels for the church bazaar. Whatever the reason, if you have trouble sitting down to write it doesn’t matter if you planned your story weeks in advance or if your muse is spewing out ideas like a geyser. The story can’t get written if you aren’t actively writing it.
Strange how that works, isn’t it?
Here’s some tough love from your ever-loving story coach: You don’t FIND time to write. You MAKE time to write. Want to hear an extra complication? Even when you make the time to write, it is NEVER guaranteed to be available in the way you want it.
The fragility of time makes NaNo kind of stressful, especially when a whole day passes and you can’t get close to your word count target. Especially when you look at your buddies and see that they are miles ahead of you in the race to finish.
If you find your time is sucked away, then chop up your day into mini writing segments of 10 or 15 minutes each. If you were already forsaking TV, FB and Twitter to write, but even that isn’t working for you, then set a timer for ten minutes and lock yourself in the bathroom with your NaNo novel. It’s like the one place where most people are willing to give you your privacy, srsly!
Let’s get real. The trick is that you have to want to do it. If the desire to write (and finish) your NaNo novel isn’t there, then you’re not going to make the time. Remind yourself that it’s just for 30 days. You can go back to FB on December 1st. You can sleep again on December 1st.
I once saw an interview with a professional baseball player during the World Series. Since the beginning of playoffs, over half his team was out with injuries, so most players played every day, for the duration of the game (including pitchers). He was asked about his exhaustion level. He said that yes, he was wiped but he knew that this was part of the job and there would be plenty of time to sleep and recuperate when the season is over.
I thought that was a very cool, logical, professional answer. We might feel overwhelmed and exhausted from lack of sleep or lack of creativity. But it’s part of NaNo. There will be plenty of time to chill out when NaNo season is over.
So, go find 15 minutes and up your word count.
Have a writerly day!