It’s that time of year again—blustery days, icy mornings, and colorful leaves drifting through the air. Oh—and novel writing time.
As October is blowing into November, writers everywhere are battening down the hatches and preparing to hunker down and pound madly away at their keyboards for thirty days in hopes of reaching 50,000 words. Maybe you’re part of that crew. If so, I’ve got valuable information for you.
Do you run on a tight schedule? Between taking classes, working a day-job, keeping up with errands, and struggling to make time for your writing, you may feel a little overwhelmed. Well guess what? You’re not alone.
Being a writer in a fast-paced, distraction-fraught world is tough. It takes discipline, focus, and grit. You know your time is precious, and you do your best to snag every little bit of extra you can horde away. Time is to the busy writer what gold is to a dragon; the problem is, we’re all-too-easily robbed.
If you’re anything like me, nothing has ever sounded as dull as simply “being normal.” Having a normal job and doing normal things like normal people. It turns you off because, deep down, you know you were made for more than that. You have a purpose, and “normalcy” is your enemy—or is it?
I just want to take a minute to say something that should be pretty obvious, but for some reason isn’t: People are not normal. People are complex, vibrant, mysterious, and deep—often beyond even their own realization. You are one of those people. But unique people like you and I sometimes find ourselves doing “normal things”—and we beat ourselves up for it.
It’s the monster hiding in every writer’s closet; the looming bane of every author’s existence. If you haven’t experienced its paralyzing effects yet, just wait—it’s coming for you.
Writer’s block. Two simple words with the power to strike dread into the hearts of bloggers, novelists, and poets everywhere. We fear becoming entrenched in the muck of writer’s block, yet those of us with any writing experience are deeply aware of its persistent inevitability. It never goes away.
In May of this year, I decided to attempt to write a novel in a month. I knew it was a long way before November, but my story was demanding to be written—immediately. So I went for it, and I failed.
I know people who have won NaNoWriMo three times, four times; heck, some of them five times! Surely I could do it once. So on May 1st, I sat down to begin my one month noveling adventure, only for it to come screeching to a halt roughly around the 25k mark. However, despite not reaching the illustrious goal of 50,000 words, I don’t consider my NaNo experience a complete failure for two reasons.
We’ve all heard it proclaimed from Facebook to Instagram to Pinterest: “Hustle, hustle, hustle!” Pithy quotes from overly-ambitious bloggers tell you that “Good things come to those who hustle!” They warn you against “nibbling on mediocrity” because it’s better to choke on greatness.
Now before you write this off as an excuse to laze around in the comfort of mediocrity, let the record show: I believe in hard work. I’m all about dedication and achieving excellence. But this idea of hustle—of constant motion—has to go if we are to achieve anything beyond absolute burnout.
Writing is hard.
Staring at a blank page waiting for words to come is one of the most grueling and disheartening experiences. It’s maddening.
Of course, you already know that. You’re a writer. This is your job. The real question is—how do you overcome this mind-numbing roadblock and get productive?