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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Forty Thousand Word Slump


So you begin Nano with tremendous excitement, dreams of fancy certificates dance in front of your eyes, as you start your first word, your first 100, 1000 10k...then you keep going, you are on a roll, the sprints are pushing that word count into the ether, 20k, you are still going strong....30 k, not so bad, until you reach the dreaded 40 thousand mark.

<insert skidmarks here>

Yep, you stall out, you begin to think that you will never make it.  That the 50k was a fools dream.  You'll never finish right?  It's at 40k that I hit that wall.  It never fails...every year I hit it.  Everything up to that point seems ridiculously easy (at least for me).  But I smack right into it none-the- less.

Let me begin by pointing out,  I have won NaNoWriMo for the past three years (2009 through 2011, and also August Camp Nano as well 2012), so I know I can do it.  Since I have proven to myself I can do it, why is that last 10k so hard?

I think I have a theory, and it came to me years ago on the way back from a Star Trek Convention...yes, I said, a STAR TREK CONVENTION (and I'm a TREKKER not a TREKKIE so there :P)   Anyhow, I digress.  The convention had been a blast, and my firend Matt and I were driving back to Ohio.  We stopped overnight at a hotel, and I strangely felt badly depressed, I even cried (not letting Matt hear of course).  And for a week I was in that "Post Con letdown."

So I feel that is part of it.  I hit the 50k and win Nano and that let down feeling begins, so I'm already thinking about it.  I feel it is like a hitter in baseball, when they get a period called a slump.  Where they can't hit shit.  

And the closer I get to the 50k the worse it gets.  I try not to think about it, but it is there getting ready to pounce on me.  It's like maximum resistance on a treadmill or stair step, where every move is an agonizing hardship.  And it really hits bad when I've "reached" it only to find the Nano sites word counter doesn't agree with mine, so it is off to add more words (which sometimes I have had to write more words more than once).

That's when I see that it really is that old nemesis of mine, "Monkey Mind," (as Natalie Goldberg puts it in "Writing Down the Bones").  There's that evil simian, working his wiles on me and my writing.  Trying to crush the joy out of it.

So now it is back to basics time.  Change to a different scene in the book, one that will hold your interest so that the words flow like a stream, just focusing on that stream, and not the ocean; so that it will get to that ocean of 50 thousand words.  Or else I just think of it as a 10k word short story.  Whatever gets me out of the dangerous mindset.

Taking more breaks might also help, but sprints are more important than ever.  Change to writing longhand first.  I did so on a napkin at dinner tonight, working on part of a scene.  Which I believe will help me get to that coveted 50k.

So what tips do you have to impart with the "Rest of the class!"

Happy 40K everyone!

And may the odds be ever in your favor....sorry, I could NOT resist.

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