Well, I’ve been pretty derailed. Yesterday was not the day I had hoped it would be. A combination of only getting four hours of sleep, from seven to eleven in the morning, set me up for a bad day. My nieghbor’s music was loud and non-stop until four in the morning and then I was too upset and frustrated to go to sleep for three hours. Also, four hours isn’t enough sleep when that’s more or less the amount I’d gotten for each of the two previous nights as well. After that… well, I got the precursor to some bad news right when I woke up, got the bad news half and hour later, and then, around two in the afternoon, finally got the context for the bad news so I could properly appreciate how bad it was.
And that was pretty much it for the day. I was just waking up enough to be able to write at that point and then I got the context for the bad news and I pretty much gave up. I still tried to write, but I packed it in around six and just played video games until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. The only reason I’m in any kind of shape to write is momentum built up by starting with easy stuff like showering, breakfast, and laundry, along with the eight hours of sleep I got thanks to the start of Daylight Saving Time. I still feel like absolutely crap, but I’ve worked through worse. Maybe. I don’t really know. It’s not like there’s a translation table for “effort required to keep doing stuff” between the various kinds of awful stuff that can happen to people. I’ve felt worse from my own depression and kept writing, but I’ve also been dealing with my depression for over a decade. This… This is new. I’ve experience similar things before, but not this.
I’m not going to go into the specifics of what it was, but I will say that my health and life are just fine. The biggest impact this will have is the negative impact on my mood. And my focus. Right now, I very much do not want to be in my own head and it is incredibly difficult to avoid being in your head while writing. My current strategy revolves around partitioning things and trying to be a little more forgiving when I need to go do something that pulls me out of my head quickly. I’m also leaning heavily on one of my YouTube playlists. It’s full of music that has a calming effect on me and that’s super helpful because it is basically shrinking the size of the stuff I’m trying to avoid in my head which gives me more room for trying to write stuff.
Which I’m still going to do. I cancelled D&D because my heart just isn’t in… well, anything. It isn’t in anything right now and I don’t want to run a game I’m not going to enjoy because I’ve learned that’s a really good way to run a game no one will enjoy. Hell, I won’t even really be able to get into it. I played games all evening yesterday and I kept getting pulled out of it by what’s going on in my head. But I’m still going to try to write today. I owe it to myself to do the best I can to continue working on my goals because those goals haven’t changed, my plans haven’t changed, and my life still needs to continue. I can’t let this stress and emotional turmoil just bring it to a halt. So I’m going to try again today and I’ll hopefully be able to get more done today than I did yesterday. I’ve got all day, still. Twelve hours until Monday. Ten until I should go to bed (since I need more than one night of decent sleep if I’m going to survive the upcoming week). That should be enough to scrap out one thousand six hundred sixty-seven words of main National Novel Writing Month project, one thousand words of romance novel, two blog entries (since I am supposed to write the next day’s post during the last hour of the prior evening and I didn’t do that yesterday), and a bunch of reading. Ideally, I’d also get a draft of Coldheart and Iron: Part 36 done since I still plan to post that on Tuesday, but I’ll take progress on it instead of the whole thing. I’m not picky.
In fact, I’m trying to be realistic. It’s entirely possible I’ll do none of those things at all. Maybe I’ll just do a few hundred words and pack it in for the day because trying to force myself to write right now was too tortuous. Anyway, I hope your National Novel Writing Month is going well and that you had a chance to make some good progress this weekend!
Unless you’re Andy Weir, your protagonist needs someone to interact with. A friend to go to for advice, a student to mentor, a foil to highlight their strengths and weaknesses, a rival to compete against, or so on. There’s someone (or multiple someones if you want an “all-of-the-above” situation) in the world of your story who will be the main focus for the protagonist. Maybe they’re part of the reason the protagonist is driving the plot or maybe they’re helping drive the plot so the protagonist can figure out how to solve it. Whyever they’re there, your protagonist needs them to shake up your descriptions with some dialogue. Today, introduce the protagonist’s main source of interaction and give a scene that establishes their relationship with the protagonist.
One of the best stories I’ve experience this year, though it’s not as good as “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing,” was the anime, My Hero Academia. What I thought was going to be just another “people with powers in high school fighting stuff” show turned out to be one the most complex and well-written anime I have ever seen. The only one that compares is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and that only came together that well because the fans demanded a faithful adaptation of the manga after it was finished. I love the way it tells complex stories using an anime genre that is notorious for simple stories about gaining more power to beat the bad guys. There’s still plenty of that in this anime, but that’s not all there is to it. It constantly defies my expectations and I love any story that can surprise me in a good way.
Don’t be afraid to take a break if you need one. You can always make up for it in the future or you have probably over-written on a few previous days so you’re not even really missing a full day of progress. The most important thing you can do this month is maintain your mental and physical health. Writing is great, and finishing a story feels great, but none of that matters if you make yourself incredibly sick as a result of pushing yourself too hard. So take breaks, take a day off when you need it, or, at the very least, don’t hold yourself to a word goal for a day. Try to write a little bit and be content with getting anything out instead of being disappointed that you fell short of your goal. Take it from me, building a daily writing habit is more important than writing the same amount every day and keeping yourself from getting sick or over-stressed is more important than both. Figure out what your hierarchy of needs is and make sure to stick to it as well as you can.