Falling behind the pack – how to keep pushing on when you’re lagging behind.

 

In case you missed it, this month is National Write a Novel Month or NaNoWrMo (NaNo) for short. Yea, I know. If you’re reading thos post, you know all about NaNo since we’ve been talking about it all month.

By this point, you should have written 31,654 words. I’ve written about 20,000. I’m almost 12,000 words “behind”. In the picture, can you see the black dog who’s looking up over the pack in front of him? Yea, that’s me. With only eleven days left in the month, I’d need to write almost 2,800 words a day to make it to the magic 50,000 word count. My chances of doing this are slim given my trial schedule for the rest of the month. Now, I’ve done it. I usually lag behind and spent most of Thanksgiving weekend writing. But that’s not likely to happen this year for lots of reason.

So, why push on? Why keep trying to hit that goal. Shouldn’t I just take my squeaky toy and head home?

NO. And neither should you.

“But why not?” you ask.

You can’t be a professional writer if you give up. The number one mandate of any writer is to FINISH the story. Keep slogging through it. Taking your toys and hiding out in your doghouse is not an option.

If you are struggling to meet your goal, whether its this month as part of NaNo or at any other phase of writing, redefine it. My husband, a criminal defense attorney, does this all the time. Most criminal cases that go to trial will end in a conviction. If your definition of “win” as a criminal defense attorney is an acquittal, you are going to have a short and frustrating career. Similarly, if your goal is a writer is to have all your stories make a billion dollars, get ready for disappointment. The husband defines “win” as any time he can get hisb client less than a full sentence. As a writer, I define the writing portion of winning as getting to “the end.” Every word I put on the page for NaNo is a win. As long as you keep writing, you are winning.

I did a post a while back on my blog about writing when the world conspires against you or inching toward success. I find that when life conspires against me, I need to write to escape into another world and regain my balance. Use NaNo as a tool to help you inch toward success. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with aiming for 50,000 words and writing 30,000 or 20,000. The point is to write.

As Jonathan Coulter said in A Talk With George:

Enjoy yourself, do the things that matter

Cause there isn’t time and space to do it all

Love the things you try, drink a cocktail wear a tie

Show a little grace if you should fall

Don’t live another day unless you make it count

There’s someone else that you’re supposed to be

There’s something deep inside of you that still wants out

And shame on you if you don’t set it free.

To buy this fabulous song you can go to JoCo’s website or Itunes. It’s one that’s helped me over some real tough roads.

If you’re discouraged about your word count, there’s only one cure. Sit down in front of your keyboard and make the words appear. You can do it. And sometimes, there’s a cocktail waiting. Whether you write 500, 10,000 or 50,000 words, you can only succeed if you show up. If you’re at the point that you need to redefine “winning” do it. There’s no shame in that. In fact, it’s a tried and true technique. You can find the time to write, even if it’s only 15 minutes a day. You can do this.

Inch by inch and word by word, you’ll cross that finish line. I’ll see you there.

4 responses on “Falling behind the pack – how to keep pushing on when you’re lagging behind.

  1. Frank Morin

    Great post, Nancy. Thanks for the encouragement. I am a little behind in my goal for the month, which is to complete an entire re-write of my YA novel (which stands at about 120,000 words). I figure I’ll write net-new about 50,000 – 75,000 words and end up at about the same word count I started with. Even though I’m falling behind, I’m loving the new story line. It’s finally firing on all cylinders. One day at a time, one chapter at a time, and we’ll get there.
    Frank Morin recently posted..Book Review: Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

  2. Clancy Metzger

    I’m not doing NaNo this year because I’m doing edits, but thank you for the reminder. I needed it today. I need to keep “inching along” or the edits won’t get done even the story is written and it can’t get published without the edits.

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