I knew going into Camp NaNoWriMo this year that April was going to be tough. Probably one of the toughest months I’ve had since college (which, now that I think about it, is further in the past than I thought. Yikes.). I was in one of the toughest courses throughout my graduate program (at least, that’s what it felt like to me). I had boatloads of work. Too much anxiety, never enough time.
Yet despite all that, I somehow managed to win Camp NaNoWriMo (again). The thing I like about Camp NaNo is it’s not like saying, “OH LOOK AT ME! I wrote a crappy 50,000-word novel in 30 days!!” I love NaNoWriMo, I really do. But it’s much more realistic for someone to write, say, 10,000 or 20,000 words in 30 days than it is to write 50,000. And it makes saying you did it sound a little less … uh … braggy.
I’m really proud of myself this year. Not because of the story I wrote (which is probably one of my favorites so far this year), but because of all the obstacles I overcame to make it happen.
Take a look at how this month went down for me. (As you can probably guess, I am exhausted, and after I run 13.1 miles on Sunday, I am officially sleeping for four days.)
Along the way, I had four “drought” periods, in which writing was minimal or non-existent.
- At the very beginning of the month, I think I was still burned out from finishing March’s novella late. I’m really not sure. I wrote about 200 words and then pretty much didn’t write again for another week.
- Midterms happened. I have major test anxiety. So pretty much that whole week, writing was minimal. It took everything out of me just to get my “real” work done.
- This was not a good streak either. I wasn’t feeling well, I let distractions get the best of me and procrastinated way too hard on way too many assignments. I admit it: I didn’t try as hard as I could have. That really set me back, and at this point I started to worry that I wasn’t going to be able to make it through the rest in time.
- Finals week. I meant to build in a buffer for this, because I knew it was going to be rough. Obviously that didn’t happen. So I had to really scramble these last few days, but I got through it.
A few really great things came out of this month’s experience, besides finishing another novella (which will be released TODAY – almost didn’t make that deadline, but I will!). I’ve started blocking myself off from even touching YouTube until the weekend starts. I’ve learned better ways to manage my time, when I’m most productive and even more about what triggers my procrastination. It’s amazing, the things we can learn about ourselves when we struggle super hard.
But the most important reminder I, and all of you, can take away from this? THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN EXCUSE. If you want something badly enough, you’re going to find a way to make it work. You’re going to make the right kinds of sacrifices.
The best advice I have for those who want to start, continue or finish writing any kind of story is to stop making excuses. Seriously. Life is always going to get in your way. You have to figure out how to work around it. You can either keep putting things off or give up when it gets tough, or you can sit down and get some writing done. It’s not as complicated as you think it is. Promise.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Camp NaNoWriMo.