We’re smack-dab in the middle of NaNoWritMo. By the end of today, those of you trying to get that draft of your masterpiece down in a month’s time need to have just over 20,000 words written. I feel your pain, your frustration, your urge to fling your laptop/PC/notebook against the nearest wall.
Franz Kafka wrote in his 1910-1923 Diaries:
“How time flies; another ten days and I have achieved nothing. It doesn’t come off. A page now and then is successful, but I can’t keep it up, the next day I am powerless.”
More from his diary:
June 1: Wrote nothing.
June 2: Wrote almost nothing.
June 7: Bad. Wrote nothing today. Tomorrow no time.
Does it make me feel better that Kafka had more than a few non-productive days? Oh, yes!
Maya Angelou once said, “I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff .., But I try. When I’m writing, I write.” Ernest Hemingway likes to stop writing in the middle of a scene so that he has somewhere to pick up the next day that he can easily finish and get the words flowing.
It might help to think about simple mathematics. If you can manage a page a day, then you’ll have a 365-page manuscript in a year. That’s over 91,000 words!
What works for me when I’m feeling blocked? Pressure and obligation. If I know someone is waiting on my words, if there is some deadline imposed, the motivation will come to get pages filled.
My sister and I share a daily spreadsheet online where we keep track of each other’s tasks and projects, writing notes of cheers and motivations as we update. I’ve also had to great pleasure of being a part of a weekly writing group with two friends that I met when we are all in grad school together. We meet at a cafe, chat, and (most of the time) try to write. We’ve had these sessions for five years, and they hold me accountable to me self-imposes promises, to their recommended deadlines. And I try my very best not to fail them. I would love to be one of those disciplined creators who work on their craft every day. Until then, bring on the ticking clocks and tsking loved ones!
Good luck to all the NaNoWritMo participants out there. Hit those word counts … by any means necessary! Hehehe….