Serena’s NaNo Madness – How Much is Too Much? (aka Catching Up in the Doldrums)

So. It is the beginning of NaNoWriMo week three. Also known as the doldrums, and slump week. When somehow things seem to get harder for your NaNoNovel, either to focus on or to figure out.

I always tackle NaNo with a huge (madly so) amount of enthusiasm – NaNo introduced me to finishing novels, writing every day, a sense of writer community, and also, you know, the rest of the Ferrets – and . . . well, way too much of a goal.

Week three slows me down too. And this year? This year I am fighting to catch up in week three – hopefully I will hit the goal I should be at sometime today, or tomorrow.

My current wordcount? Well. . . It’s somewhere north of 50k.

Remember I said a mad amount of enthusiasm? I always go without a plan for NaNoWriMo. That means I pick out my project within three days of November 1st.

This year I decided in October that I would do two NaNoWriMo projects. One new original novel – I got a glimmering of an idea the afternoon of Halloween, and didn’t actually pin it down until twenty to midnight (Rebekah can attest to this; she was sitting there at the kick-off party helping me sort details!); and one already-ongoing ‘verse to add 50k words to during November.

Then I decided that wasn’t quite enough, and seriously debated trying for a total of 150k words between the two projects in November – after all, I top 100k almost every year, so surely just that wouldn’t be a big enough goal?

Remember that ‘how much is too much’? While I was making these plans, I was also trying to finish a handful of writing projects – including a pair of linked stories that top 50k, now that they’re finished – in the lead-up to NaNoWriMo.

Then my computer died. Catastrophically. By the way, do you back up your work? Do you do it often enough? Because I don’t! I back up, sure, but my latest backup of my writing was from two weeks prior to my laptop’s death. (I did eventually get my writing files back, but seriously, I’m also going to be a lot more scrupulous about backing stuff up now.)

So I started NaNoWriMo without my latest writing files and with a borrowed netbook I had never typed on before. My first week of NaNoWriMo was . . . sketchy. I lowered my goal – but only to the dual-project 50k each. Even though I couldn’t even begin on my ongoing ‘verse until I had a new computer and all of my files restored.

I also started a couple of new writing projects that are unrelated to NaNo, on the first day of NaNoWriMo, because I needed to de-stress. (This is actually not unusual for me, though I’d hoped dual projects would actually channel all of my writing this month.)

I finally got my new computer the evening of the 7th. One full week into NaNoWriMo and over 7k behind.

I have felt very discouraged from time to time – even for several days in a row, if I’m honest – this November. I’ve debated, very quietly, if I am going to make my outrageous goal at all, this time. I have wondered if it is just my stubbornness that made me absolutely refuse to pull back, to try for just one project instead of doubling it – or to drop the other things I’m trying to finish for a while.

Maybe it is. Maybe it is that I hate to set a goal and then walk away. Maybe it is that I’m clinging to that goal from when the severe upheaval of week one hit me. Maybe it is that I am determined to prove that I can, even after the utter mess I slogged through. Maybe it is just that I love my secondary project, I love NaNoWriMo, and I don’t want to pull back.

Whatever the reason, though, well . . . I’m sticking with it. It’s what I do.

Hey, stubborn usually serves me pretty well (better than curiosity, at times, and those are pretty much my two guiding impulses) and I know it is possible to catch up from here. It’s never impossible, and I am not giving up.

So I’m way behind – though I’ve closed the gap a lot in the past few days, to my glee – and I’ve got a lot of territory to cover before I hit that finish line. There’s a chance I may not hit that finish line at all – a chance I’ve never really seriously examined, before, personally. That’s . . . okay.

That’s what write-ins, and Boxes of Doom, and friends who play cheering squad, and determination, and silly scenes that help you get to know your characters (and exactly how much your grammar can fail during NaNo; 95-word sentences are both alarming and impressive) and screw it, that is what NaNoWriMo is for, wherever your wordcount is.

It’s never too late to catch up, and every single word written is progress.


So, how are you doing, at a little more than halfway into NaNoWriMo? Are you catching up, like me? Are you racing on ahead?

What do you do when you hit the week three doldrums?


3 thoughts on “Serena’s NaNo Madness – How Much is Too Much? (aka Catching Up in the Doldrums)

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