As you can see from the lateness of today’s post, I’ve encountered a hiccup. As a result of work, the things going on in my life, and my writing, I have over-extended myself. I spent yesterday evening trying to enjoy playing video games instead of writing in an effort to relax, but any recovery was offset by the stress and anxiety that resulted from yesterday being election day. I would normally be able to ignore that, but already being mentally and emotionally exhausted meant I was unable to do more than take it out of the forefront of my mind by playing video games. Because of how active my mind was, I was unable to sleep until the results were in and the anxieties about the day had been resolved. So I was up until two in the morning and I woke up four hours later. And then went in to work were I had to manage the second half of a meeting that was the culmination of over a year of work on my part. The first part, a major contributing factor to how tired and exhausted I was last night, was yesterday. Thankfully, all that is done now. Election results are mostly in. Sure, there’s still a ton of bullshit tied to most election results because my state (among others) is gerrymandered to the point of being completely fucking undemocratic and there’s tons of instances of blatant corruption and voter suppression, but the elections are over now and trying to change things with voting isn’t an option for another two years. Plus, apparently democracy doesn’t matter anymore, the rule of law means nothing to a huge number of voters in this country given their support of a political group that has unabashedly allowed the most corrupt federal government in living memory to do whatever the fuck it wants, and apparently we’re no longer even pretending that the shit-show we’re living through right now is any kind of “normal.”
So I’m trying again tonight. Emphasis on “try” seeing as it’s doing to be difficult to relax while I’m waiting for the country to fall apart. Still, you gotta keep trying to live, right? So I’m gonna post this and then play video games until I get tired enough to sleep (which, in this case, means staying up until 10pm so I actually sleep through the night as going to sleep now means waking up at 9pm and being unable to sleep until 3 or 4 unless I just dose myself with NyQuil). Progress and forward movement are important, so I’m going to get at least a few hundred words in today between this post and doing some work on my National Novel Writing Month project. Maybe aim for one thousand words total, if I can. Or just focus on finishing the thoughts behind this post and doing enough to make it worth updating my word count on the National Novel Writing Month website. Whatever I can do without pushing myself too hard.
I hope day seven of National Novel Writing Month is going well for you and that you’re making progress on your goals. Even if it feels so small as to be entirely pointless, it is still progress. Write only one word, if you can’t muster more than that, and be proud of the fact that you managed to accomplish something today.
Humans are often very emotional beings. A lot of us let a few emotions have a lot of say in our lives because we tend to respond habitually unless we are consciously trying to change our behavior or taking the time to sort through our emotions before reacting. I tend toward anxiety and worry. One of my roommates tends toward exasperation and concern. One of my friends tends toward intense interest and nonchalance. What are the emotional habits of your protagonist? Are they aware they have a tendency to respond in certain ways or would it come as a surprise to them if someone pointed it out?
If you want to have a good time and don’t mind a certain degree of meta humor, and a really long-running gag, you should check out One-Punch Man. The story itself isn’t anything particularly amazing, though it’s still pretty clever, but the main reason I read it is for the way it makes fun of superhero comics and shonen manga. The comic is full of crazy villains yelling out their backstories as they commit stupid, petty crimes and heroes who do the same thing while busting said villains. It features a man who never fights seriously and still wins every fight in pretty much one punch (actual number may vary, but it’s only ever one vaguely serious attack per fight). It is full of great little jokes, a decent amount of well-conceived parody, and it still manages to stress the importance of heroism in ways that don’t get old even as it makes fun of most heroes.
There are these things called “sprints.” They’re essentially the same thing for writing as they are for running: quick bursts of speed and focus in order to get as far as you can in a predetermined amount of time. Most people do fifteen minute writing sprints, since anything longer tends to stray away from something people can expect themselves to easily stick to. Personally, I prefer five-minute sprints. That’s about the amount of time it takes for my brain to get so far ahead of my fingers that it actively starts to impede my ability to write words. After a five-minute sprint, I update word counts, do a little math for whatever form I’m building to calculate the over-complicated formulas I produced to track my writing progress this month, and then do another one. Five minutes of writing, one minute off. I repeat that until I need to use the restroom or I’ve done five sprints. After the fifth sprint, I take a five-minute break and then get back to it again.
Ideally, you’ll figure out what period of time works best for you. If you’ve already done sprints before or you have some knowledge of how to cater to your natural attention span, you should be good to go. Otherwise, just try different lengths of time until it clicks. It’ll be obvious when it does because you’ll notice your word count start to climb quickly. Just make sure your breaks don’t involve anything distracting or else your sprints with turn into strolls.