You’ve done it: You’ve at least started the word document, labeled it “Nanowrimo 2015,” and slapped your name on it, for good measure, because it makes it look official. You may have even stuck a title on there too. Your fingers are poised and ready, hovering eagerly over the keyboard of your laptop. You have your coffee, you’ve created your strategically-planned playlist of the utmost relevant songs from movie soundtracks that are sure to compel you, and you have an entirely open afternoon, just awaiting to shower you with bestseller-like word-fluidity.
But nothing happens. No words appear. Earlier in the day, your mind was a raving cacophony of humming plot twists and singing dialogue and genius one-liners. Well, now it’s a deserted, unremarkable and blank expanse that lies just beyond reach of any ounce of creativity you might be able to muster up. After years of participating in Nanowrimo, you know that the only way to grapple your away around this problem is to write. Just write some shit. Write it out. Something will happen, but only if you accept that first, you’re going to wading through a whole lot of bullshit.
And, being in between seasonal jobs (which is code for currently unemployed) I should, theoretically, be able to practically finish my novel in the first week with this ample amount of time that has been bestowed upon me, right?
I’ve found, however, that the big evil “P” word is easily succumbed to at vulnerable times like these: Procrastination. There are good ways to procrastinate, and bad ways to procrastinate. Below is an example of what a guilty and ashamed Procrastinating Wrimo looks like (“Wrimo,” noun: A participant in National Novel Writing Month.)
Notice several characteristics of this creature in order to recognize them in yourself (Are you one of these creatures?)
- Half-eaten junk food item. This wrimo was obviously lamenting a lack of inspiration and creativity and, as a result of writers block-induced despair, abandoned her writerly attemprs and drove all the way to a gas station simply to purchase this enormous “2-to-Go” Milky Way Bar. Legend has it that, sometimes, the magical properties of chocolate and sugar catalyze a sort of scientific reaction in which the finished product is a solid, creative idea.
- Starbucks Frappuchino. Pure, self-serving indulgence stemming from the loss of will to get up and make own coffee, etc.
- Hiding from the world. This Wrimo is tucked away beneath a blanket in the dark. Clearly despairing at meager word count.
Some very not-recommended forms of procrastination:
- Using minor things as an excuse not to write. For example, my finger nails are really, really long right now. The Procrastinator Devil on my shoulder keeps nagging me, telling me that it’s too uncomfortable to type with unclipped fingernails, and that I shouldn’t try to write until I’ve remedied the problem. However, I just relocated recently, and I haven’t been able to find what box or bag is hiding my fingernail clippers.
- Binge-watching tv shows that you don’t really care about and are clearly just using to fuel your avoidance problem. I can’t help it. I found an entire season of True Blood right at my unclipped-fingertips and I just had to watch it, all day. Once I had a roommate that used to watch this show. I pretended that I hated it. Now I get to watch it instead of write!
- Using junk food as a method of procrastinating. Wrimos need to take good care of themselves. And while there is certainly an excessive amount of chocolate, wine, whisky, and coffee involved with Nanowrimo, at least consume these things while you write, not instead of writing. Oops!
If you MUST give in to the procrastination devil on your shoulder (and don’t be ashamed, it happens to the best of us) try these:
- Peruse the Nanoisms 2015 thread. (“Nanoism: noun. an error in a NaNoWriMo novel that is funny or awkward). Nanoisms arise in our writing due to various factors (lack of sleep, over-caffeinated, drunk, writing too fast, losing trains of thought, moments of writerly desperation etc.) Regardless of cause, this thread may or may not have you rolling around on the floor in tears because you are laughing so hard. Not only will this serve to lighten your dark, writer-blocky mood, but it will also remind you that it’s not going perfectly for everyone else, either. Mistakes are to be made.
- Check out Seventh Sanctum. This is one of my all-time favorite tools/websites for Nanowrimo. It’s a little disturbing how much time one can spend on this website, playing with the different generators (villain names, pirate names, tree-being names, magical abilities, strange creatures, hilarious story plot ideas, and more—all generated randomly.) On top of being entertaining, sometimes this website provides some real gems that you can, and should, totally integrate into your novel if you’re having issues.
- Do something completely unrelated to writing that is actually good for you. This morning, when I realized I was getting nowhere with my word count, I dragged myself off to yoga class and ended up feeling tremendously grateful that I took the time to peel my eyes away from my computer screen for a couple hours. It’s so easy to completely lose yourself in your own head during the month of November if you’re a Wrimo. Try to come out every once in a while!
And, now that I’ve shaved away another hour off my day by blogging instead of noveling, I’m off to take my own advice.
Happy writing, folks.
Quinn the girl / Catling