Slogging Through and Burning Out: NaNoWriMo, Week Two

Jessica Cross
Nov 14, 2016 · 3 min read

Like clockwork, I swear.

Everyone warns against Week Two Burnout, but as Week One winds down, I’m always dismissive — “PFFFT! MAN, I AM FLYING THROUGH THIS STORY! PLOT IDEAS FOR DAYS! MY CHARACTERS KEEP SURPRISING ME! THIS IS GOING BETTER THAN I’D HOPED!”*

And then Week Two starts, and by about Thursday, the writing has turned laborious and I start to have serious doubts about the very concept of my novel. It’s overly simplistic, there’s not enough conflict, and honestly, I pad and pad and pad, and there are days when I hit the 1,667 words (or then some), but absolutely nothing has happened within those words. A thousand odd words of reading a map, or having a coffee, or combing his hair.

I know it’s well within the spirit of NaNoWriMo — just keep writing, edit later — but it feels like all those empty words is just me stalling out on having to figure out what I want to say next.

I outlined this year; not a complete outline, but more than I usually do, and I’ve been following it. It’s helped, but I don’t want to be so rigid in following the outline that I can’t be spontaneous or creative on the fly, and those (infrequent and small) bouts of spontaneity change the story just enough where I know I’m going to reach a point where all those alterations come to a head and some medium-ish size plot point will no longer work in light for what I’ve changed/improvised. It’s not happened yet, but I can see it coming. If it can old out until the end of Week Three (where I sometimes get a second wind), I might be okay.

At the heart of it, I actually really dig the story I’m trying to write, but I’m getting impatient — I want it to be done so I can go back and edit, but I can’t even seriously start thinking about that until it’s all down on paper first, and I’m having a hard time getting it down because I’m obsessing about the changes I want to make, yada yada yada, a vicious circle. I will have my work cut out for my in December, let me tell you.

Ways My Son Has Tried to Distract Me from NaNo, Week Two Edition:

  1. realized he wasn’t the center of attention for two minutes, went and ate the cat’s kibble.
  2. realized I wasn’t immediately looming over him, fascinated by everything he did, he pulled the wheels off the dishwasher rack
  3. realized I’d already pulled him off the coffee table twice, figured I’d given up, climbed onto table, slipped, fell flat on his back and rolled off the table, nearly sending my into cardiac arrest at the same time
  4. realized I was actively trying to write, hit the keyboard and whined until I put on Peekaboo videos for him

Let’s see what Week Three brings.

*A forum I recommend you stay away from if you are already feeling badly about your novel. To be fair, the people there are quite friendly, and actually quite supportive, but there is a state of “my novel sucks/I’m having such a hard time” where that forum really is more of a hindrance than a help, however nice the people there are.

National Novel Writing Month

The NaNoWriMo community on Medium. We share and support each other through November's madness and beyond. We welcome submissions about NaNoWriMo, fiction writing, and promoting novels.

Jessica Cross

Written by

Writer of words, maker of things, drinker of coffee. Wife, mom, geek, and unapologetic feminist.

National Novel Writing Month

The NaNoWriMo community on Medium. We share and support each other through November's madness and beyond. We welcome submissions about NaNoWriMo, fiction writing, and promoting novels.

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