Coping strategies for your impending NaNoWriMo mental and emotional breakdown

Huzzah! NaNoWriMo is here! Are you ready? Doesn’t matter. Just sit down. Write. Write more. Sit down. You’re not done yet.

I’m writing this for you as much as for myself.

This is my first attempt at completing a book in a month. Except, I’ve chosen not to look at it like that. Instead, I’m approaching it as a 50,000 word first draft of something, anything. Even if I can only mine out one good nugget for a short story or, hell, my most perfect sentence yet, I’ll consider it a success.

Actually, scratch that. Success to me will be if I can get down 1,600 words every day this month. I’m working on consistency. To not be so precious about the act of writing.

Writing at that pace, being committed to a word count on a daily schedule, not “waiting for the muse,” is bound to cause some inner friction soon enough.

Here are some coping strategies for you (me) to reference when that friction hits. Just add them to your writer’s toolbox, which I’m sure you (I) spent a lot of time meticulously organizing instead of working on an outline. 🙂

Me. November 1.
Me. November 15.

Read from “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

I love this book. It’s a super fast read, the chapters punchy and direct, which is great, because you have work to do. Reading from “The War of Art” is like getting a pep talk from your coach, ringside, after a round of battling it out on the page.

I especially appreciate Pressfield’s insights on how we trick ourselves into procrastination–and his tips on how to defeat that tendency.

Want the CliffsNotes? It’s cool, you’re on a deadline: Check out these quote excerpts from Goodreads.

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

Listen to an episode of the “10 Minute Writer’s Workshop” podcast

Take a 10 minute break. That’s all the time you’ll need to get an energy boost from published writers who have been in your shoes. This podcast from NPR features quick interviews with authors about their craft, hangups and tools for busting the block. Try this episode first, with current literarti It Girl, Celeste Ng.

Listen to Uncle George

“Art doesn’t have a finish line. It’s just a race. Against yourself.”

Remind yourself this is only the first draft… of the first draft

And those are always shit. Just ask Hemingway. Or any of the greats. Here are some quotes for you (me) to reference when the mid-month, mid-book, self-doubt storms start rolling in.

“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” Terry Prachett

“The first draft of everything is shit.” Ernest Hemingway

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that I can later build castles.” Shannon Hale

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