On Monday, I came back to reality (after four days of vacation and several weeks of feeling like I wanted to quit everything and move to Antarctica) and realized that I had only written 24,000 words of my NaNoWriMo novel.
It was November 28. I had three days to write over 25,000 words.
If you’re going to know one thing about me, it’s that I do not handle defeat well. If I have to, I stare it straight in the face, cry a lot and then get over it pretty quickly (after a lot of crying … a LOT). I was terrified that I would have to accept my first NaNo defeat since I started doing this in 2008. I was disappointed. I felt like other people would be disappointed in me.
I had two options: scream “YOU CAN DO IT” over and over again until I hit 50,000 words, or give myself a break, write as much as I could, and accept that just because I wasn’t going to win did not mean my attempt did not count.
Then I tried something I’m not sure I have ever tried before – the one trick that got me from 24,000 words to 50,000 words in a little over 75 hours.
I started telling myself I could not do it.
Positive affirmations have actually never worked for me. Telling myself “YOU GOT THIS! YOU CAN DO THIS!” over and over again just annoys me. However, I am the person who, when told I cannot do something, has to tear apart her entire orderly existence – temporarily – for the sake of proving whoever sid “no” that she CAN actually do it. Even if I’m the one saying “no.”
So I put off as much work as I could, shifted around my schedule, and wrote 6,000, then 8,000, then 12,000 words, three days in a row, without a decent break along the way.
One: Never do this. Two: Stop saying you can’t. Gosh darn it, you CAN. YOU SO CAN.
I should add a disclaimer to the beginning of this post: “Kids, don’t try this at home.” Seriously, don’t take all of this to mean you SHOULD write this much in such a short amount of time, or that you HAVE to. If you are going to take anything away from this, it should be that YOU ARE SO CAPABLE. You are more capable of writing like a machine than you think you are. You can, when you have to. You CAN.
Don’t ever let anything like deadlines or bad days or doubt get in the way of just DOING IT. Just jump in and do it. If procrastination is how you do it, then do it responsibly. As long as you DO IT. Write it, record it, draw it, try it, whatever it is. See how far you can push yourself … as long as you’re not pushing yourself completely over the edge.
In the comments, share with the class what you’re going to do this weekend that you’ve already convinced yourself you can’t. How are you going to prove yourself wrong?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.