Anxiety Levels – Activate!

I’ve already decided to sit out NaNoWriMo this year, feeling my time is better spent working on things I’ve already started, rather than starting Yet Another Novel (henceforth referred to as YAN), and I think that’s the right decision. Plus the pace of NaNo, writing a minimum of 1667 words per day, is challenging for me even on a good day. The house goes to hell (Ok, further into the bowels of Hell than it already is), I subsist on sandwiches and frozen microwaveable food (i.e., cooking grinds to a halt), tv/movie viewing is nil, all forms of exercise become a dim memory.

Really, though, when I get into the writing groove and manage to block out all the distractions I surprise even myself with how much I can get done in a relatively short amount of time. The problem is getting into that groove, something that I have to say I can thank NaNoWriMo for teaching me. Sustaining it the other eleven months out of the year once the party atmosphere and excitement of writing along with tens of thousands of other people fades is difficult to maintain. How do others do it?

I recently started following Harry Connolly, author of the Twenty Palaces saga, on Twitter and I gotta tell ya he’s a scream. He put up a post the other day about why he doesn’t participate in NaNoWriMo, “NaNoWhaNow?” and it makes a lot of sense. However comma he also says 1700 words a day for a professional writer is no big deal, to wit:

That’s not a lot. Many professional novelists would consider that a Meh day, and many others would feel like slackers.

So my anxiety levels just increased by a magnitude of 10. Harry does admit it’s a stretch for him as well (he’s down here in the trenches with the rest of us working a day job) in which I do take some comfort, and it really is a nice, encouraging post. But there has to be a way to keep that focus going after NaNo, not just when smashing words onto the page to fill your word count. It needs to be corraled so we can shape what crash-landed on the pages in November into something more polished. Too bad we can’t just dump our first drafts into one of those rock polishers and turn the handle until the pages get all nice and shiny and the words are so smooth they almost slide off the page (of course it’s better if they don’t…)

So today I resolve to get back into that groove/zone/flow, whatever you like to term it. I wrote almost 700 words yesterday on a short story I started (I know, I know, shouldn’t be starting anything new just now but it popped up and I had to do something with it, didn’t I?).

18 thoughts on “Anxiety Levels – Activate!

  1. I’ve done that in the past, but in this case it’s a whole different genre. The new story is science fiction, with no supernatural elements. My vampire story is set in the future, but this is something else entirely. But that’s ok, I’m hoping to finish the new story soon and submit it to a couple of different magazines. 🙂


  2. Well, IF I get it published (big IF there) it could end up in an online version of whatever publication, so you might be able to read it 🙂 Lots of magazines have online versions, and many have free access to their stories. Not sure how they make money, but it seems to work for them.


  3. I’m sure Harry’s heart is in the right place, but so are the hearts of those folks who run NaNo, who are, at the very least, doing a lot to get people excited about writing, instead of watching DWTS on TV, or stupid videos on YouTube, or farting around on Facebook. The one advantage to doing it as an amateur is that there’s nobody to yell at you if you decide you’ve got a different story to tell today, in a different genre – just as with athletes, if you’re not going to the Olympics, any exercise is good, and it all gets your blood circulating. It just sounds to me like you are in a different place in your process right now – in your (truly impressive) NaNo phase, you were super-diligent about cranking out the quantity – the word count reigned supreme. Now you have something else on your mind, and it’s taking you some time to get in a “buffing and polishing” mode. IMO, writing a new story – something relatively short, that you can shine up in a brief amount of time – might be just the right approach. After all, you were the one who found us that excellent quote about writing for you best audience – yourself!


  4. Yeah, somehow that stuff always comes back to bite me in the arse 😉 I liked that quote though, because I do feel silly putting so much time and effort and love into a vampire story. It even sounds silly to me when I say it! Oh well, I love it, I’m having a blast with it, that’ll have to be good enough justification for writing it. In the grand scheme of things, though, I think NaNo has served its purpose for me. I totally agree, it’s a wonderful idea, and as you said, anything other than mind-numbing tv is a good thing. With all the people trying to write books, it does beg the question of why so few are readers. I read an article the other day that that mentioned 40% of people have read a single book in the last year. I won’t even date a guy who doesn’t like to read. It’s such a fundamental difference in outlooks I can’t imagine we’d have much of anything in common. Ok, unless he looked like one of the hot bikers on SoA 😉

    Harry’s a spark-plug, though. I think he’d be a scream to have lunch with.


    1. I’m not doing NaNo this year, either. While I wait to hear back on Portraits, I want to finish another manuscript I started. Like you, I feel NaNo has served its purpose for me. Although I will miss it. Even though I write regularly, there is something exhilarating about NaNo.

      The number of people who claim they want to write a book vs. the number of people who read, *is* rather peculiar, to say the least. But then, perhaps they are the kind of people who in everyday life are all talk, no listen.


    2. Yes, I’m sure at some point I’ll feel like I’m missing the party while the excitement ramps up for NaNo, but priorities, priorities… it really is infectious, though.

      I think you’re right about the talk vs. action. I saw the profile of someone here in the Portland area who had done NaNo eight times, with no intention of ever trying to get published. Maybe some people just do it for the social aspect. People who claim to be writing a book may just like saying it, too.


      1. “I think you’re right about the talk vs. action. I saw the profile of someone here in the Portland area who had done NaNo eight times, with no intention of ever trying to get published. Maybe some people just do it for the social aspect. People who claim to be writing a book may just like saying it, too.”

        Oh, heh. I actually was referring to people who just liked the sound of their own voice. The kind of people who hog conversations- always talking, never listening to the other person. I could imagine that type being someone who would want to write a book, but not be interested in reading what others have written.


  5. Oh, and regarding feeling silly about writing a vamp story…. don’t. Why should you feel silly about writing something that brings you joy? And obviously brings other people a lot of joy?

    Hell, I’m shopping a novel filled with ghosts.


    1. I know, I shouldn’t worry about it, but the one or two people I told during NaNo last year what I was working on before NaNo started gave me that look… you know what I mean. And then I read an online review of another new vampire novel the other day, so clearly the reading public still craves it. I can always hide behind my nom de plume! 😉


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