If Walls Could Talk: What to Do When You’re Behind
We’re just past the halfway point in NaNoWriMo. That means participants should be at 25K words.
I wish I was remotely close to that. But, alas, I find myself massively behind. November didn’t turn out remotely how I planned. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s a nightmare for my progress.
Instead of writing 1,667 words a day to meet my goal, I currently need to hit slightly over 2K. I may not finish but I’m opening up my schedule next week and playing catch up.
I may have to bribe myself with the new Pokémon game. No playing until I hit my daily word count. It’s usually a good incentive for me to get my work done.
I know I’m not the only one who’s massively behind. Unfortunately, the middle of a project is the hardest part. It’s easy to get discouraged, let life get in the way, and to be passive where two weeks ago you had all the energy in the world.
What can we do to catch up?
1) Create An Incentive
Sometimes when I find myself well and truly stuck, I place an incentive.
Over the next couple of weeks, this will probably involve Pokémon Scarlet. I’m super excited to see how they handled the change in format.
But there are other incentives. If I hit this many words, then I can take a break. Or, if I hit this many words, I can go take a nap (there are days where this is the best incentive).
You have to sit down and decide what will work for you. If I’m honest, what works for me changes day to day.
Microproductivity is working in short bursts of time. Like, let’s say I do two 20 minute sprints. Then I take a break and repeat the cycle.
I did an entire article on Microproductivity earlier this year, and it’s truly worth taking a look. This has helped me make progress. With NaNo in full swing, there are now other people in the server doing sprints with me!
That’s been a lifesaver already. I’ve got a narrow window to write and by sprinting, I’ve dramatically increased my output.
Even if I’m just sprinting against the clock, it helps.
But if I’m outside of a sprint, setting minor goals that make way to a bigger one have proven invaluable. I know some people sit down for a long period of time and write. But that’s not me anymore.
3) Know When To Stop
Here’s your fact. Normally, I sit down and write this column in one sitting. This week, there is a two hour gap somewhere in here. You would have never noticed it if I pointed it out. Earlier today, I hit the wall when it came to writing so I stepped away and, honestly, took a nap.
A couple of hours later, I came back to my computer and picked up where I left off.
Sometimes, half the battle to a more productive writing day is to know when to stop. Whether you walk away and do other things or, do like I did, and take a nap. Whatever it is, if your body and mind tell you to stop, stop.
It’s taken me far too long to listen. I still push myself past what I should on occasion. But part of my physical/mental health journey has been learning to take cue from what my body wants and needs.
4) Reach Out To People
Remember last week, when I said to make sure you’ve got a community to back you up? I meant it. It’s never too late to start forming yours.
I’m not the only one in my home region that’s behind. By being in our chat and hearing how they’re struggling as well, it helps me to feel like less of a failure. It helps knowing others are having the same struggles.
I can even go to James and get his advice if I’m struggling, or bounce ideas off of Nicole. Like I mentioned last week, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by fellow creatives; they have been truly invaluable.
With my schedule taking a crazy turn, I haven’t been able to participate in nightly sprints like I should. I’m hoping to get back to them soon. While sprints alone are invaluable, doing them with people is a boost to productivity.
With the setup of NaNoWriMo, you’re not competing against other writers, you’re competing against yourself and the clock. The people along the way can help you as you all reach for your goals.
5) Don’t Freak Out
In my earlier writing days, when I would fall in the position I’m in now, I would freak out. I’d think it was impossible to catch up and wonder how on Earth I was going to manage.
The problem is…that did nothing to help me ultimately reach my goal.
One battle is getting in the proper headspace to write. Some days, that battle is fighting with my own mental health. I’ve come such a long way since last year, but even then, it’s a journey you stay on.
Freaking out would compound the problem. Instead of taking the time to read, do some writing warm ups, or even meditate, I would only help myself into a downward spiral.
What happens if you don’t win NaNoWriMo?
You don’t get the bragging rights. But, any way you spin it, there are words that are on the page that weren’t two weeks ago. That is a win.
What happens if you’re behind in writing?
While this post may seem like it’s centered around NaNoWriMo, these tips can be applied all year round. I did a post about missing deadlines earlier this year, and if you’re that worried, maybe take a second to check it out.
Writing 50,000 words in a month is an adventure. As far as this year is concerned, I haven’t thrown in the towel by any stretch of the imagination.
But don’t let the potential fear of failure bog you don’t. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Writing is work, yes. But there are ways to do it where it still brings you joy.
Don’t give up.