Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo, and writers around the world attempted to finish a novel – or at least 50,000 words of one (most novels out there are closer to 80,000 words)-- in 30 days. For most, this meant a regular, daily commitment. Others opted for long weekends locked away from the world in order to build up their word counts. Either way, they set time aside and met a personal commitment. Although millions around the world collectively took up the challenge, it was up to each individual writer to do the work themselves.
Besides the lessons of time management (you CAN schedule writing time in, even when the rest of your life seems chaotic) and priorities (is another round of Words With Friends important, or is that last 200 words for today?), writers learned the strength of momentum!
You remember Newton’s laws of motion, right? Basically, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. This could be a law of creative writing as well. Once your writing creates movement onto the page, it is easier to keep it going; just as your writing stays at a standstill the longer you do nothing. That’s the essence of the other law; a body at rest tends to stay at rest.
These laws make sense with all sorts of habits, good and bad. You start a bad habit into motion, it picks up momentum and puts the brakes on the good habits. Anyone else spend a 4-day Thanksgiving weekend blowing their diet? Getting back to reality on Monday was pretty tough, right (especially if you STILL had leftovers)? The good news is, while it may cause a bit of strain in the beginning, getting back to the good habits is possible. After the initial struggle, you can transform a bad habit into a good one.
Hopefully, if you participated in NaNoWriMo you were able to get into a routine for your writing. One thing that I’ve discovered, however, is that the pace is not sustainable. For some, writing 1600+ words a day becomes easy. I’m not one of those people (not for my novel, anyway). Instead, at the end of NaNo, I suffer from burn out and my writing tends to crash. I did the same thing with my physical workouts earlier this year. I was working out, hard, EVERY DAY. I thought since the workouts were shorter than my usual hour long sessions, I didn’t’ really need “rest days”. While I can’t be sure, I believe this contributed to a knee injury that sidelined me for a few months.
If you are suffering burnout after NaNo, be gentle with yourself, but do come back. You made some great strides, and although you may be hurting now, the only way to build up your strength is to keep going. Find your pace and begin!
Or, better yet—Find the joy in Editing! (I’m a weirdo, this is my favorite part.)
I am going to spending a few days in New Orleans, starting tomorrow. When I’ve been there before, I’ve come back with all kinds of writing ideas, written on backs of receipts, matchbooks, and the like. This year, I think I will Tweet some of my thoughts (and possibly pics) so you can be inspired by the Big Easy as well. Follow me @ExcuseEditor
P.S. Watch your email for the latest writing contest and market listing from Excuse Editor early tomorrow morning! Not signed up? Go here.