First of all, a quick story! This last week, I have wandered far and wide down the Pacific Northwest, visiting all varieties of lovely people, meeting friends old and new alike. I hugged people, I slept on couches, I took a yoga class and walked far, far too much, I received a flower crown and a college apartment hair trim, I got peeped at by a stick-obsessed cat first thing in the morning… It’s been a wild ride.
(I also got cuddled by a friendly writing friend… bless.)
Now. Y’all may have noticed that I did not post on Wednesday, as I have previously promised. I started that post, but come Wednesday when it was supposed to go up, I was in transit… to a location where I ceased to have internet. At which point, the post never did go up.
I’m so sorry for not getting a post up. However, I am going to incorporate last Wednesday’s post into this one, and try to start anew this coming week.
Which is to say: my topic for Sunday will incorporate a lot of my recent anxieties around Camp NaNoWriMo.
Ah, Camp NaNo. I wish I could tell you that all has been going smooth and swift over in NaNo land. And, I mean, I could tell you that, but I’d be a dirty nasty fibber if I did, and let’s be honest, the writing process rarely goes as planned, even on the good days.
It’s no mistake that I made a series of posts about creative procrastination, outlining, imagining, and doing everything besides writing in order to prepare for writing itself. After all that slowing down, taking a breather, and doing everything to prepare for writing, I have once again buckled down to write. And now, I’m suddenly confronting a nasty trial: I have fallen behind on my goals.
(I feel as though I listed some tips, last I wrote to you, and included “build a buffer” as one of them. Yeah. Nah. That hasn’t worked out quite as fabulously for me as it usually does.)
Hence the title for today. Catching up. Getting back on track after you’ve fallen off the proverbial word train, after you’ve got a bit of lag and you’re struggling to close the gap and get back to where you know you’ve got to be.
I’m finding a few things helpful at this time, and I’d like to share them.
First, I’m not blaming myself for falling behind. It’s easy to do, and I’ve been there. But, listen, life happens. Remember that stick-obsessed cat? Hours lost every morning, to that. You’ve got to live life, and you’ve got to do what needs doing in your day. And, yes, life will barge into your time and put a bit of a dampener on your “crank it out” mentality. Honestly? That’s okay.
I’m having a little faith. In me, mostly. I’m looking back on history–the fact that, for starters, I’ve caught up from worse backlogs. I seem to recall one year having to write around 5k two days in a row to get back on-par with my intended word count. Midterms really sucked that year, as I recall it.
But even then, you’ve got to have faith in yourself beyond that. You’ve got to put the work in, but so long as you’ve got the determination to do that? It’ll get done. It may take longer than you expect, it might hiccup along the way, you may stumble. That’s all right. Know your abilities. Look at what you’ve done before. Challenge yourself further and know that you’ve overcome challenges in the past.
Remember that writing rarely goes according to plan. Plans get tossed to the wind all the time. Stuff comes up that makes the old plans irrelevant, or unfeasible. So you make a new plan. You press on. You get what you need.
On that note, seriously. I have been getting what I need to press on. As it turns out, what I’ve needed this particular NaNoWriMo? Is a butt-load of reassurance. I may have mentioned this one already, but I’ll reiterate: I have never re-written a book before. Never. Straight-up, it has never happened. I have re-written essays, I have re-written sections, I have done aggressive edits such that it might have amounted to a minor re-write, but the fact of the matter is that I am walking into this with only the reassurance of peers who are kind enough to read what I’m putting out.
They’re telling me it’s okay. Sometimes you just need to hear that it’s okay.
Perhaps most importantly, I’m having to tell myself, ad infinitum: In no world can progress constitute failure. If I don’t make word count today? So be it. If I never catch up? I’ll still have written. This book will still be closer to being re-written than it was a month ago. We’re still pressing on, here.
It makes no sense to punish yourself for not getting far enough. Reward yourself for going far. Forgive yourself for falling short. Be honest with yourself. Re-think your goals, re-arrange your time if you can, and need to. Adapt as you need and be kind to yourself when something doesn’t work out. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.
Repeat it with me: life happens.
Life’s got to happen, or else, where do we get all the inspiration, all the context, all the sensory grit we need to write the stuff we do?
Things to consider, I suppose.
Thanks so much for sitting here with me as I muse. I will (hopefully, actually, this time) update with a NaNoWriMo reflection on Wednesday, and let you all know how that catching-up thing is going. Until then, I’ve got a bit more life to live. Grocery runs, lesson-planning, and some cauliflower all happen to be calling me, just now.
Keep on keeping on, my friends. Let’s catch up to all the words we’ve got to write. Here’s to it!