November is a short two weeks away, and that means not just Thanksgiving Prep, but National Novel Writing Month. I first found out about this in 2006, but since we were in the middle of moving into my former MIL’s house, I decided to put it off for a year. And thank god I did.
I never realized I was capable of putting so much pressure on myself. Okay, that’s a lie; I did it when my husband was in the hospital and thought I could do everything myself….which resulted in me having a meltdown in the hospital parking lot when the alternator in my car went out. Thankfully, my parents were still around, and helped me out.
But fast-forward to 2007. The first week of NaNo, I settled in every day after getting the kids off to school, and wrote from 9:30-noon; picked up my toddler from Head Start; fed myself lunch and settled the toddler with his toys and Nickelodean channel while I went back to work. My older kids trooped in around 3:30, and after checking to make sure homework was accomplished, I’d return to my WIP until around 5. After dinner and clean up, I’d be back at it until 9pm, the toddler’s bedtime, and then work again until midnight, unless I hit my 1550 word count goal for the day.
Week #2: Same schedule, only this time, my daughter began balking at getting out of bed. Sometimes I’d be so stressed after dealing with her, I’d read or go have coffee with a friend before going home to work. As a result, by the end of the week, I realized my word count was falling behind.
Week #3: I began to panic when the words weren’t coming, plus my hubby arrived home and complained about me sitting at the computer Wednesday night, and demanded I help him with the next day’s food prep. By Saturday, I was having a full-blown panic attack, since we were only six days away from the end of the month, and I was easily 10-15K words behind.
Week #4: Had a shouting match with my daughter about being late to school, plus made a rolling stop through a 4-way stop and got caught, which resulted in not only a ticket, but I had a meltdown in the assistant principal’s office. Ironically enough, just the fact the man listened to me cry, acknowledged I was probably trying to do too much, and encouraged me to ‘slow down’ made me feel better, and lo and behold, the words flowed, and by midnight on the 30th, I managed to squeak over the 50K mark at 50,035.
I found out later the kids had gone to their dad over Thanksgiving and complained that ‘Mom had lost her mind’.
For the record, I NEVER want to turn into that person again….
In subsequent years, I’ve not sweated my word count. I proved to myself I can do it, and in 2014, I worked on two projects at the same time, and finished the first one in two weeks, then spent the rest of the month working on another, with the final word count coming in at a little over 51K.
So the lesson here is, KNOW YOUR LIMITS. If it’s too stressful, by all means, back off. I’d forgotten the most important thing: I’m only competing against MYSELF, and it’s not worth alienating the family to pursue a goal that’s all in your head. Yes, it can be extremely productive, and fun with write-ins with other writer friends and the kick-off parties (we received some great goodies with our area leader!), but ultimately, the goal is to get more words written. Even if you miss the goal, pat yourself on the back for the words you DO have down!
Just recognize when ‘Hyde’ shows up, it’s time to back off and remember to breathe.
EEEK! Do you realize there’s only 10 weeks left in this year??? Where did this year go??
I’m home this weekend, but am setting up at our Farmer’s Market, at the request of the organizer who follows me on FB, and wants me to show off the two new anthologies. Saturday night, we’re kicking off the release of Bad Decisions with an Open Mic Night.
Had a GREAT time at Imaginarium, and even got to meet Holly Bargo in person:) Was on three panels, reconnected with friends I only see twice a year, and managed to sell four books:) Looking forward to next year!