It was the Week after NaNoWriMo…

And not a word was written.

Or, not a lot anyway.

For someone who had hit 50K words in the first 9 days of NaNo, I found myself at a distinct loss for words. The honest truth was that I’ve drained myself a little bit. Writing takes so much energy that blasting out 140K words in 30 days seemed to have taken most of my reserves. I had anticipated this luckily and hadn’t set out a lot of writing projects for December. I had finished my largest one just before NaNoWriMo and the rest… Well. They could wait for the New Year.

What I’m experiencing isn’t actually all that uncommon. A lot of NaNoWriMo writers don’t indulge in their creative juices again for a full year until the next NaNoWriMo. Projects are abandoned half way, the dreams of becoming a published author sliced with the reality of every day routine. Worlds are left as they were, sometimes never visited again.

I find the latter incredibly sad but not as sad as those writers who abandon their keyboards and stories. The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that it gives you the ‘oomph’ that you need to start your ‘One Day’ project. The problem with NaNoWriMo is a lot of times it leaves you in the middle of it and because you drained away most of your writing energy in the past 30 days, you can’t make yourself go back to it.

The truth is that although writing is a great hobby, it’s also like work sometimes. It’s certainly become a little bit like work for me, even though I really enjoy it.

And, it’s a discipline, a routine that you need to establish.

To try and get over the NaNoWriMo Blues, I have a few suggestions that I would like you to try out, if you feel that you want to continue writing but can’t make yourself start.

  1. Give yourself time to relax. Make it a set time like 14 days, or 31 days (the whole of December). If you’ve set down a time, stick to it. Turn on your computer directly the day after. If you post pone, you’ll be doing it your whole life.
  2. Set yourself a goal. Don’t make it a ridiculous one – make it easy and achievable. Remember, this is not NaNoWriMo anymore, it’s about your own personal time and your own personal goals. Mine is 7000 words a week which equates to 1000 for every day of the week or 1400 per day if I don’t count weekends (which I don’t write in a lot to give myself a break).
  3. Keep track of your goal. Set up an excel spreadsheet and enter the amount in every day. You laugh? It works! There’s nothing more motivational than seeing what you need and what you have. Some days you can sit back, open a proverbial (or physical!) bottle of red wine and go: I did good. Other times you can brew a cup of coffee and type out that extra couple of lines that you need.
  4. Find a writing buddy. Share your goals and your triumphs. Give each other reports. It helps having someone checking up on you every now and again. Humans are strange like that because we don’t like it if others see our failure. 😉
  5. If you can – join a writer’s group or a writing workshop. An author I know called it ‘author group therapy’. We need people like ourselves to keep encouraging us. No offense to you non writers reading this, but you just don’t always understand. We need that understanding sometimes.
  6. Don’t give up. Ever. Keep on writing, keep on trying, keep on setting goals for yourself. It will pay off in the end.

A good friend of mine, Aheila (who you can find in my links page) did just this. She set up a goal for herself and she’s stuck with it through thick and thin. She’s not published her first short story and I believe that she’s well on her way to becoming a published author. She’s shown me that it can be done, and I would like to hold her up as an example to all of you.

Go to her blog, see what’s she’s done.

Remember that, although writing is patient, some stories aren’t and when you have an idea you need to put it down into paper now.

Otherwise you’ll lose it, and that would be tragic. Like the mass murder of dozens of characters that the world will never know. So, please – continue on writing. If you have the NaNoWriMO Blues – sulk, but then step out of it.

There’s still a whole world out there for you. 😉

Alyss

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The End is Nigh… Sort of.

So, as some of you have noticed, I have crossed the 50K mark. And, I have to tell you, I don’t often smile as much as I did yesterday. I honestly didn’t think that I would make it, knowing the demands on my personal life and my work life. But, I set out this month on what felt like a wild and reckless dash in the beginning to get out as many words as I could. You see, the reason I signed up was because I had wanted to prove a point to myself. I’ve always been somebody who used to not do things because I didn’t think that I could instead of trying to see if I could. Then, when I decided to go abroad last year, I realized that I had to change my motto and change my perception. The cliché phrase of: If you shoot for the moon and miss, then you’ll still fall among the stars… finally hit home.
I learned to do things blindly, to leap into projects even though I had absolutely no confidence in myself.
Because you see, I learned a very valuable lesson, which took me 24 years to learn…

Even if you don’t believe in yourself, there are still others who do. And, it’s more brutal on the psyche to disappoint them than yourself.

So, as with many other things this year, I learned that if you don’t leap and take a chance, you might never get anywhere – not because you don’t have it in you, but because you never tried. I crawled out from underneath my rock and now have a shiny NaNoWriMo Winner’s certificate to prove it. I’m not done yet of course, lol, so you’ll see my word count still growing. Not only am I not done with my project, but I feel that I want to give my country’s word count as much of a boost as I can. The South Africans are still clinging strong to 69th place – and we’re only about 10K behind the next region.

I also have other goals in mind for this month, as well as the next. Firstly, I need to finish a fan fiction fic that I’ve been working on – The Healer’s Touch, before December. If I do, it will be eligible for the 2009 Fannie Awards – a type of Fan Fiction Oscars for all authors writing in the Kim Possible fan fiction genre (yes, yes, I watch cartoons, I’m addicted, there’s no helping me). Last year, this stories prequel – The Touch of Green Fire, got nominated in a few categories as well as myself. I didn’t make it to the top 3, but it’s put an itch in me that says – you can do better, you can reach it… Secondly, I also need to finish another fic, purely because I’ve been at it for a while and need to wrap it up. If I can carry on writing at the pace that I did for NaNo, then I’ll finish both easily by the end of the year.
And lastly, I’m not going to stop writing purely because I love it. I love writing, and in this month I’ve found a space in which to do it which I’ve lost somewhere along the line. Although I’ve always enjoyed it, I find myself having fun again. And, that’s made a big difference not only in my stories but in the way I think about myself.

So, to make a long story short, and a short story longer, I want to firstly thank you all for reading my words. If it weren’t for you, they would never be here. I would like to thank you for your encouragement and your humor and your support.
Although she’ll probably never read this, I would also like to thank the author Kim Harrison again for also encouraging me and my fellow NaNoWriMo’s alike. It made it special somehow, getting encouraging words from someone who’s already made it. And, she made it fun.
I’d like to thank my computer for not crashing on me and my horse for not crashing with me.
And, lastly but not the least by far, I would like to thank my partner, who has an incredible understanding for the fact that I have to live in two worlds. You don’t get someone like this everyday…

If you’re still busy, frantically typing out your word count – I want to a) reprimand you for reading while you should be writing and b) want to wish you the best of luck!! There’s a squirrel, fireworks and a certificate just ahead of you. Go go go!

Have a great day everybody.
Alyssa