“Don’t half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” ~ Ron Swanson
Here it is, folks. That time of year when aspiring writers everywhere either congratulate themselves for surviving the gauntlet of NaNoWriMo, or shrugging their shoulders and saying “Well, at least I tried.”
I count myself among the latter. This is partly the reason for my very long absence, as is the usual–promotion to a new position at work, working on a master’s degree, yadda yadda. I’d taken a break from the blogging to make sure I didn’t overextend myself, which I have a tendency to do. But then, alas, I got the itch to write again. I partially satiated the need by entering and earning third place in the Write Practice Writing contest with my story, “Laura.” And then I remembered that November is the month of NaNoWriMo. And I thought, “You know, I’ve got a good balance going with work and school. Maybe I can find time to write 1667 words a day on the side, too.”
It started out well. I had a solid idea and I ran with it, far outstripping the expected word count for the first few days. But then? I got fatigued. I skipped a day here so I could work on a class assignment. I missed a day there because I had a long day at work. I got angry at myself for not giving myself time to relax on the weekend and doing instead what I do best–stressing myself out about things that aren’t necessarily a priority.
Don’t get me wrong. I have big dreams of achieving mediocre success as a writer while I also make great strides in my full-time career as a librarian. But in mid-November, when I woke up at 5am once again to add to my daily word count (which I was far behind on by that time) in addition to completing my reading and discussion post assignments. And I found myself feeling unable to focus on anything I was doing. I felt like I had been hit by an 18-wheeler. And then I realized I had overextended myself…again.
Quitting NaNoWriMo was the right decision for me. While I am very excited about the story I began developing, and disappointed that I have started and not finished yet another novel, it hasn’t been worth feeling like I’ve been walking through a fog for the last two weeks and only staying conscious because of my good friend, caffeine.
So, fellow writers, do yourself a favor and don’t mistake genuine fatigue for writer’s block. Don’t push yourself over the edge until you feel like you need a month in bed to recover. If your characters and your story are anything like mine, they will gently prod you every once in a while to remind you that they are still there, waiting for you, when you are ready to see them again.