Time is Ticking Away (or how not to deal with a self-imposed deadline)

Critics and naysayers may say that NaNoWriMo is silly. That it’s not what real writers do when they sit down to write a book. That sitting down and hashing out a bunch of nonsense words doesn’t automatically make you a writer–there’s also planning and plot and structure to consider, etc. and so forth.

However, having gone through it my own way, there is something to be said about NaNoWriMo that I really, really like. The deadline thing really works. There’s something about joining with thousands of other writers in proclaiming “I will write x amount of words everyday so that I will have, if not a completed novel, then at least 50,000 words worth of a novel. And I plan to do it all by the end of November.”

When I did NaNoWriMo last year, there were times when I thought it was a piece of cake. Other times, I had to force the words to come, hating what I wrote, but at the same time remembering, this is just a first draft. It can be edited for comprehension later. I know there’s a lot of controversy on picking November, a holiday month, for focusing exclusively on writing, but for me, it worked fine enough. We weren’t traveling for Thanksgiving, and I didn’t have to do much as far as cooking went. I had plenty of time to focus on Willow, and when I crossed that 50,000 word barrier a couple of days before the end of November, I was pretty darn proud of myself.

So here it is in the middle of June already. I am roughly ten chapters away from ending Willow. That’s how it was at the beginning of June, too. I feel like I’ve gotten nowhere. So far these past couple of weeks, I’ve only completed two chapters, roughly a chapter per week. Weren’t I doing at least three chapters a week in November? What happened to that focus that was with me then? Why does it feel like I’m crawling at a snail’s pace towards the end?

Hmmm…I think there’s a variety of reasons. First of all, I didn’t have relatives staying at our house back then. As my hubby’s folks prepare to go to the Philippines, there’s a lot of stuff they need to do, and in helping and spending time with them, my writing production has fallen a little low, which is fine. I can write anytime, but the next time we see my hubby’s folks, it will be around Christmas. It’s good to spend as much time with them as we can. It’s nice that technology has evolved so that instead of getting an occasional letter from them, we can now call using the Internet. But there’s something about being around in person that makes things fun. So I’ve been putting the priority on spending time with them.

Second reason I’m not writing is potty training. ‘Nuff said.

Third reason is more psychological. After I wrote the above sentences about feeling like I’m going nowhere, I actually dug up the post I did on the NaNoWriMo wrapup. Seems that my memory is a lot more candy-covered than reality. I thought I had written at least ten chapters in November. Turns out, I wrote only eight, which is about two chapters per week. Granted, my word count was a lot higher than what I’m doing now–back then, I wrote about 2000 words a day. So far, I’ve been averaging about 1100 words. But I’m still averaging about two chapters per week, so that’s a lot better than I thought I was doing.

I also think I’m writing slower because I’m getting to the climax of the book where everything will hit the proverbial fan. On the one hand, I’m very impatient to get to the words, ‘the end’, but I just can’t do that. I want to know what happens to my characters, and that means working and putting in place what will lead to the final battle. They can’t just magically zoop themselves to the battle. Things need to happen first, important things. It’s the wiping of the hands and the drink of wine after a nice, simple meal before you dig into the dessert.

I want to skip straight to the ending, but there’s one more scene I need to do before I do. And I just got to be patient. And I need to be realistic. There’s a good chance that this won’t be done by the end of June, not with all the other stuff going on at my house. I shouldn’t have been so eager–

No. Gonna nip that thought right in the bud. I’m a writer. I better be excited that I’m approaching the end of my first book. Eagerness is good. It helps stoke me up when I sit down at my keyboard (brand new wireless, I may add, courtesy of my hubby). And for all that’s going on in my house, the fact that I’m still getting work done should make me proud. I just set my deadline just a little too soon in my eagerness.

The end is going to come. It takes a word at a time. This week will be a good chance to catch up on writing. Next week, things will be pretty busy again as we send my hubby’s mother off to join her husband in the mission field. Then there’ll be fourth of July, and then…

Well…I can revise the goal for ending Willow to the end of that month, before I go to the Midwest Writers Workshop. It will be a nice goal to work towards. Notice I say goal and not deadline. “Deadline” sounds like doom–if I don’t make the deadline, thunderclouds will form over our house, the earth will crack, sheep will start walking on their hinds legs and berating us humans for eating their children…

I like ‘goal’. It sounds much nicer.

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