Strategies for Combating Post-NaNoWriMo Procrastination

By Posted in - On Writing on November 28th, 2010 15 Comments

NaNoWriMo is almost over, many of you have already reached your 50K goals, and some of you still have a way to go. But wherever you are in the game, 50K isn’t a novel unless you’re writing for young children. Most of us have to keep going. We have to find the motivation to complete the last third of the novel, or put flesh on the completed skeleton. But we’re tired, and we just want to sleep.

Personally, I’ve vowed that I’m not going to stare into the fire on another New Year’s Eve and wish I’d finished my project. But this video is dangerously close to how I’m feeling…

My Strategy for Avoiding this Sad Fate?

A few NaNoWriMo buddies and I have started a Facebook group called Warrior Chat so we can keep each other going until we reach “THE END”. We’ll call occasional Word Wars, and use the live group chat feature to brainstorm and motivate each other. We can edit shared documents with names like “The Anatomy of a Scene” and “Useful Links and Resources” and the best one of all… “I’ve Reached THE END!!!”

What strategies do you have for completing your NaNoWriMo project? And how are you feeling about this year’s NaNoWriMo project?

(15) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Shelley Souza - Reply

    November 28, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I've learned so many things from doing the 50K NaNoWriMo. One of them is that without our original warrior group, which will migrate to Warrior Chat on the 1st December, I don't think I would have completed the challenge.

    The way I'm working with my NaNo text is very different from how I've worked with fiction before. Right now, I'm going through 50,000 words and figuring out what I really want to say, and why. I'm using a favourite red pencil to underline and make notes. Mainly, I think it will take a few rounds before I extract a first draft out of the story I told myself during November. But I'm not in a rush to write "The End." What I want to get out this is a manuscript that I can actually send to agents, and whether or not it's accepted, to know for myself that I wrote the best story I could, to that point.

    So, I'm looking forward to cheering writers on to the final finish line, as well as being inspired by the writer friends I've made over the past month to get there, myself.

  • Lia Keyes - Reply

    November 28, 2010 at 11:18 am

    And you will, Shelley! You've been a tower of strength, supplying motivational music videos to pump life into our tired brains, moderating word wars, responding to everyone's posts… all on top of thrashing out that zero draft! Amazing.

    And now you have something to work with, whereas before NaNoWriMo all we had were ideas bumping into each other in our overwhelmed brains. I'm so impressed by all you've achieved.

  • Robin Yaklin - Reply

    November 28, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Lia,
    first a BIG thanks for setting up the Facebook Warriors group. (Let's call this my first time of really participating since health issue prevented that the last time.) So, as my first time I can say that 50K was the goal (and I did reach that), but as you said it is not a complete novel. Scene cards lay on my coffee table that are unwritten. I promised myself Thanksgiving would be a few days of joyful family gatherings and a good break from writing. Now it's time to begin again. Those unfinished scenes call.

    Tomorrow morning my Monday writing group will come to my house. The coffee will flow and the pens will scratch away. We have been meeting for a year. We know each other's stories. There will be brainstorming and exchange of books. They and this site inspire me. But, and it's a big one, a decision must be made that applies to them as well as to us. We, all, will decide how much time writing gets and will assign it a priority. We will order our time accordingly. I hope my actions–making the bed, feeding the cats, etc, will be in accordance with my writing priority. If it is, then the time to create can happen. If not, then I must ask myself if the priority is accurate. Perhaps it isn't. That's okay. I refuse to beat myself up. That requires mental energy. The thing to do is: keep looking at the priorities and assessing until they slip into place effortlessly. Through NaNo I've learned courage, perserverance, and sending the internal editor on vacation, seeking outside inspiration, and connectedness, are effective ways for me to handle the blank page. Also I learned to set aside time to write without feeling guilty. I took off a few days for Thanksgiving and I found that if I did that I was happier. I just hate being somewhere or with someone and feeling like I should be somewhere else.

    This coming month will be learning how to re-engage. I am sure it will be a time in which this community, the Warriors and my writing buddies are going to be blessings I cannot as yet know. Push on, my friends, push on.

    • Lia Keyes - Reply

      November 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      Robin, it sounds as though you've learned so many great things by doing this year's NaNoWriMo! I hope you hold on to that hard-won knowledge and continue to schedule writing sessions in between the mundane necessities of life. Because when our lives are over, you won't regret that you didn't put a load of laundry in on such-and-such a day, but you will regret that you didn't finish your novel. That's how I've managed to bring myself round to making my writing a priority. We can do it all, but I do the writing first. 😉

  • Carolyn - Reply

    November 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    It has been a goal of mine–woefully underachieved at this point–to build a process that will give me a completed manuscript by September, which is when I generally like to start looking for ideas to flesh out for the upcoming November. And by completed, I mean a manuscript that has been through rewrites, edits and critiques and is ready for submission.

    The revision process completely overwhelmed me until I attended a Weekend Novel Revision Retreat hosted by Darcy Pattison for our local SCBWI group. She has a book based on that retreat called Novel Metamorphosis, and I hope to be able to break that down into month-by-month goals.

    That being said, December is my month to make sure I have a complete draft to work with and then read, read, read (and blog) before diving into Drafts two through final.

    • Lia Keyes - Reply

      November 28, 2010 at 3:45 pm

      Carolyn, I love NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS! How lucky you are to have heard that advice in person at the retreat! I agree that the revision process can be overwhelming—especially with NaNoWriMo drafts, which are messy at best. I must remember to suggest that book to the Warriors when we get to that point in the next day or so. Breaking the process down in to month-by-month goals is a great way to go. Or week-by-week if, like me, you're in a hurry! I also think everyone can benefit from putting the manuscript away for as long as possible first. We need some distance in order to see what clearly what needs to be done. And a rest wouldn't go amiss, either. My brain has been on overdrive for the entire month! 🙂

  • Sheryl Gwyther - Reply

    November 28, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Lia, I would never have reached my goal of finishing not just one first draft of a junior novel, but two. I was helped along and motivated by you, our fellow NaNoWarriors and our Word Wars.
    I look forward to being in the Warrior Chat when November passes.
    thanks! 🙂

  • Lia Keyes - Reply

    November 28, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Sheryl, your own generosity and active participation was a huge part of why the NaNoWriMo Warriors turned into such a successful endeavor! I can't fail to be inspired by someone who can write not only one, but TWO novels in a month!

  • Robert Sloan - Reply

    November 29, 2010 at 12:20 am

    This year's Nanowrimo, my tenth, taught me some very important things. For one of them, I actually can sustain a good story without dialogue, just in feline body language! For another, the book was better than I thought it was at all the points I thought it was stupid and would never work.

    It's more pleasant to write with confidence believing that every word that drips from my fingertips is gold. But whether I believe that or think that I'm tipping out the cat box into the manuscript, the quality remains the same. It's a lot easier to believe the former when I've got support – something few writers ever get till they've sold bestsellers.

    Thank you for starting Facebook Warriors. I'll still be hanging around in Warriors Chat as more and more Warriors finish and begin their edits too. Ari purrs and sheds Cat Hairs of Inspiration on you. All of my characters sit up on Ambush Rock and make their deep-voiced contact calls too. You've done something great for all of us.

  • Robert Sloan - Reply

    November 29, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Robin – priorities are easy. Just ask your cat. A rumpled bed is as comfortable as a tidy one with everything tucked in – maybe more so as those piled coverlets make extra padding for those who sleep on top. Cat feeding is a necessity.

    If you don't remain the primary food bringer, your loving cats will start hunting for small game. They'll try to make sure you're well fed with mice, dead birds, bugs, the usual feline delicacies. Nothing disrupts the writing process so much as a squirrel haunch dropped on your keyboard, so definitely feed the cats!

  • Engrid E (Penny) - Reply

    November 29, 2010 at 3:17 am

    I'm standing at my desk (have to stop typing for a minute) and giving you a standing ovation. If you had not started our group I sincerely believe this book would still be bouncing around in my head, why not, it's been in there for ten years!!! Later this week, hubby & a couple of friends & I will be driving (2 cars, thank you) to New Mexico for a winter break, but my laptop will be coming along because now that I've let my characters speak, they won't leave me alone until their story is told. That inner editor is threatening to return early from the Bahamas, where I sent her on 10/30, and I'm not ready for her return.

    With your help and that of that "show up everyday" group of Warriors, I have been able to make a dream come true….now onwards & upwards to get this draft finished, edited, revised, etc. Thank you, Lia! When I was at a Tony Robbins seminar he taught us "If you can't, then you must….no excuses" so no excuses, no procrastinating.

  • Dee White - Reply

    November 29, 2010 at 4:00 am

    I'm with Penny. I give you a standing ovation too, Lia.

    I have loved being part of the NaNoWriMo Warriors and am looking forward to keeping the chat going on Warrior Chat.

    For me the most wonderful part has been meeting writers from all over the world and hearing how you all work and that it doesn't matter where you come from, writing presents its own challenges and it's inspiring to have a group of like minded people to brainstorm and vent with.

    I'm going to leave the first draft of my NaNo novel for a few months while I finish off other projects. I think I have the bare bones and basic structure there. Now I have to add the layers – that's where I develop the characters just that bit more, link the pieces together and add foreshadowing clues for the reader. I also tend to go beyond the events in this draft and look at have I used the strongest, most effective language? I also look at any boring bits and where I can add more meaning and resonance for the reader.

    Although I can't get back to it just yet, I'm really looking forward to editing this novel.

    Just wanted to wish you and all the other NaNoWriMo Warriors all the best with your edits and thank you all once again for being part of this wonderful experience.


    P.S. Might be best if someone from the US (who isn't time zone challenged like me) does next year's schedules – except for maybe WW4:)

  • Conda V Douglas - Reply

    November 29, 2010 at 6:31 am

    First Lia, thanks so much for all you've done for us NaNoWriMoWarriors. And I think this is a great idea for anyone who procrastinates…which is all of us!!

    As for my NaNo experience, just today I had a massive epiphany which made me so glad to have done it. NOW I have a book!

  • Robin Yaklin - Reply

    November 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Hey all, I definitely learned the hard way about setting priorities. For those of you on the Warrior FB site my comment will be old hat, doesn't matter though. Two years ago I had a leaking aneurysm, that's about as close to the end as you can get. Afterward, priorities were so easy to set. I saw them clearly delineated. Of course, the shock has worn off and the priorities have slipped around like klutzes on ice skates. Still I learned how important writing is to me. I want to tell stories. I will forego making the bed, etc. for the writing time. But, do others? I know they don't because some of them are my friends and we talk about this. When they keep life in balance, everything is exciting. When they don't, well, they are grouchy. My hope is everyone will have come across their set of priorities and be able to keep them from sliding. It's a constant battle. I know.

  • Lia Keyes - Reply

    November 29, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Good point, Robin! I do, on the whole make the bed – though there are days when it's well-made and days when I just yank the covers up to the pillows and leave it at that. But if NaNoWriMo taught us one thing, it's that you can write around 2,000 words in an hour. One hour a day is all you need to find time for. Amazing how hard that seems to be, post NaNoWriMo….

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