Every year, Mr. Smith wonders why NaNoWriMo is in November. “It’s the busiest month!” he gently grumbles. I remind him that all our months are busy, but I know what he means. It does seem like every week in November has a major event. The biggest, of course, is Thanksgiving! And while the spirit of the holiday calls us to gather and offer gratitude for simple blessings, the day can be anything but simple. With cooking, traveling, visiting, cleaning up and the following day’s holiday hangover, it can seem impossible to regain traction with your novel. Are you too far behind to win? Should you even try? Maybe the seven-hour Christmas movie marathon is calling your name…
Before you toss away your hopes for the year, try these techniques to overcome the NaNoWriMo Post-Thanksgiving Slump:
Remember why you wanted to participate this year? Was it to finish a WIP that’s been languishing on your hard drive for half a decade, or to pin down a new idea? Did you want to prove to yourself you have what it takes, or prove to the haters that you can start and finish a big project? Was it to party like it’s 1999 on November 30th, or have a quiet month of reflection and hard, focused work?
Whatever drove you to do this crazy contest in the first place, you need to get absolutely honest with yourself now. Why do you want this? It’s possible your motives have changed over the course of the month and that, like the Phoenix, all your fluff is burning away to reveal your real, golden motivation. You thought you were going to show off a little and live like a bohemian, but it turns out you’re facing your fear of failure. Whoa.
Take some time to confront your fears and dread about picking up your novel again. Think about what’s really holding you back. Maybe your protag is about to confront a problem that you, yourself, also need to process. I’ve had spooky parallels show up in my books, too. Consider sharing your hesitancy with a close friend or accountabilibuddy who can advise you.
Look at your schedule for the rest of November. Brutally cut all unnecessary activities and appointments, like you’re trimming the Thanksgiving turkey. You may be surprised at the pockets of time you find. Then, make a list of rewards: decadent hot chocolate or the swanky tea you’ve been saving, a new album, the book that’s been on your TBR list for forever, and several other treats, pamperings, and privileges. Decide how many fifteen-minute word sprints you should do to earn each one.
This way, you’re not eying the 50,000 word mark. Instead, you’re only watching the timer. You may wonder why you cut out all the unnecessary activities when you’re just going to spend some of that time painting your toenails or making hot chocolate. Whether you make 50k or not, you’ll finish the month feeling pampered and well cared for instead of harried, stressed and disappointed.
When you’re doing word sprints, you may be surprised at how much you can accomplish in short segments of time!
As you write your way to December, you’ll find something along the way—your voice. You’ll be so busy writing you won’t have time to wonder whether your prose sounds authentic. At the end of the month, you’ll be standing on a mountain of new work, and you’ll know what it feels like to be a writer who writes. More important than a manuscript is the momentum you’re building. Don’t get discouraged, don’t give up. Just. Keep. Writing. No one can see you, no one can judge you. When you get this book done and published, no one will read it and think, “Hey, was this written in two months? I only like to read November novels!!”
Your momentum and energy are the most important takeaways from NaNoWriMo. Be confident into December.
So many people want to write a book but never start. You started. You’ll finish. You’re doing it!
NOW YOU: How do you beat the NaNoWriMo Post-Thanksgiving Slump?