11/4/09 PepTalk from ML MattKinsi – Falling Behind?

You might have noticed I have a big word count right now, and you might just be thinking how much you’d like to gouge my eyes out, come after me with a wire hanger, or somehow otherwise annihilate me.  And that’s ok, and I’m gonna let you finish, but understand that I, like many of you, am struggling.

I’m falling behind.

Yes, that sounds nuts with a high wordcount already.  I know that sounds nuts.  I know as I sit here reading it, it looks nuts.  But I truly am falling behind, no lie.

I am falling behind in my goal of finishing the novel, which is always a huge struggle for me every year.  Whatever novel has decided to implant itself in my head is just not wanting to come out in the alloted time frame and in the word count I had in mind, so I’m frantically writing to try and finish whatever future epic my muse has in store.  I’m losing sleep, a lot of sleep, over it, and yet I’m falling behind.  I seem to be writing every chance I have, but I’m falling behind.  And that just doesn’t seem fair – shouldn’t the little word count tool at least be able to give me extra points for effort?

And I got a little panicky about it on Tuesday, November 3rd.  And let me tell you, that’s not a fun place to be.  Because when I finally was able to sit down and write, all I felt was panic for being so far behind.  And I got wrapped up in that for too long, and sure enough it ate a good chunk out of my available writing time.  Luckily, I was at a write-in, and I was able to get my butt in gear and started up a fifteen minute word war in our NaNoLanta chatroom.  I wrote as fast as I could for fifteen minute chunks, not worrying about typos or even if I was getting the characters names and times right…I’m still pretty sure my Main Character said it was November when my chapter first started, then talked about Halloween coming up.   But I don’t care (and I’ll fix the month jumping during revision in a few months.)  I wrote, wrote, and wrote some more.  And after those fifteen minutes were up, I took a break to rest my poor little fingers and grab more coffee.

November 3rd is about to end as I write this, and November 4th is about to roll in.  And you, like me, very well be dreading the start of the next day because it means I suddenly have a lot more to write.  Again.  Can’t we just pause the passing of time so we can get to where we want to be?

Sadly…no.  Physics is not on our side on this one.

Some of you might not have any idea about what I’m talking about here – you’re doing great!  You’re cranking out more words than you ever thought possible, and the story is going along swimmingly.  You’re paddling ahead of the game.  And for you out there, I applaud you whole heartedly, and hope you continue to row away.  But I also don’t want you to delete this, because you might find it useful as we get later on in the month.  Trust me.

Everyone, take a deep breath with me.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Inhale deeply, exhale deeply.

Now, I have some words of wisdom for everyone feeling like they’re falling behind: You haven’t missed the boat.

Maybe you didn’t hear about the trip till today, maybe your computer just decided to rebel against the mere thought of the work you’re going to be putting it through and crashed.  Maybe you were able to write some, but got an unbelievable block.  Maybe your life has just been too busy for you lately and you can’t find the time to write.

You haven’t missed the boat.

Sure, some of might be in the boat and paddling away, but I want to point you over to our super duper secret NaNoLanta speed boat.  Its going to get you caught up with the big boat and maybe even pass us.  Jump on in.

You haven’t missed the boat.

And here’s what’s going to give this boat some extra speed.  It’s going to be that boat over there.  See it?  A little far off in the distance.  The one with the gigantic skull and crossbones flag waving.  Well, it wants to prevent you from ever getting back on track.  And it’s time to go to war.  A word war.  I want every single person reading this email to STOP READING THIS EMAIL RIGHT NOW, and go and write as much as you can for the next fifteen minutes.

Seriously.  Go.  Once again I’ll wait.
I wasn’t kidding.  Go write as much as you can for the next fifteen minutes.  Time yourself, or if you don’t have a timer, let me point you out to a Word War Winner’s best kept secret, Write or Die.  Click 15 minutes and put it on Kamikaze mode.  And get started.  And you’d better write for all fifteen minutes, or you’ll be in for a nasty surprise.

Now, I want everyone getting this to flood my inbox with how much you just wrote in those 15 minutes just now.  Go ahead, hit reply, send me how much you added to your masterpiece in those 15 minutes, and come on back.

Some people can get 1300 in those fifteen minutes.  Some people can get 200, and let me tell you, both are huge successes.  Let’s say you can get 200 words in those 15 minutes.  And let’s say you want to get 2000 words today to give yourself a cushion.

That’s 10 fifteen minute chunks.  Yes, that’s two hours and thirty minutes of writing.  And you might not have the time to such a long span, or the attention span to write such a long span.  Well, let’s find some time for you.

I bet you can get in 30 minutes of writing before you go to school or go to work – get up after the alarm goes off instead of snoozing your way through a half an hour.  That’s 2 fifteen minute chunks right there.  8 to go.

I bet you also squeeze one in during lunch, or while in between classes.  There’s 7 more.

I bet right after work or your classes, you could go somewhere before heading right home and get in at least 2 more 15 minute chunks.  And we’ve got five left.

And I bet you could take an hour of writing time at home for four more 15-minute chunks, and then right before bed for one final chunk.

There, we’ve worked in our 10 chunks.  And even if we averaged 200 words, we’ve suddenly got 2k more written in our story than yesterday.  Even if you’re blocked, start with this sentence.  “<insert name here> decided it was high time to change his location and go shopping.”  And write.  You know, if it doesn’t advance your plot, thats fine.  Here’s another secret for you from the LitFic genre – not every word has to matter for the plot.  A word is a word.  But you’ll be surprised what pops out for your plot when you’re done with those 15 minutes.  My plot made a sharp turn to the left tonight during a 15 minute word war and ended up in a much better place as a result.

Many wrimos feel like they have to do all of their writing for the day at once.  That is soooo not true.  Split it up into chunks.  And at the end of the chunk, write yourself a real quick note where to go next.  That’s the secret to my high word count right there.  15 minute word war chunks with random notes on where to go next.  Using these 15 minute chunks, I was able to get to where I needed to be for the end of the day, and even got a head start on tomorrow’s goal.

I bet you can too.

And, if you’ve made it reading this far, congrats.  I would like to throw out a reminder to everyone to update your wordcount on the website daily so we have an accurate picture of our war with Denver, who pulled ahead yesterday!   You can update on the top of any page of nanowrimo.org after logging in.


  1. I still hate you, but now I hate you with respect 😉

    Go Wrimos!!! (this should be a football team, I tell you)

    I’ll write tonight, I promise.

  2. I managed to get 530 words. Thank you for the link. It helped to motivate me when I saw the word disappearing.

  3. OK, OK, OK!… I’m behind on my OTHER writing projects over the next two week. Why not take a third crack at NaNoWriMo when I only have to crank out 4,545 words per day if I start Friday?… No way will I get 50K in time, given my other writing tasks that are must-dos, but it’s the spirit of the thing that counts. Maybe I’ll fudge and pick up where my last effort left off.

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