NaNoWriMo Week 2. Or, the Wall

So the second week of NaNoWriMo has come and gone and I’ve fallen way behind on keeping up on this blog. In my defense, a significant part of that was because my mother ended up in the hospital for the week, so keeping up with her, stopping by the hospital every couple of days, and making sure her needs were being met took up a significant amount of my time that I would have otherwise spent writing. She’s home now, but still recovering from some serious health issues, so it looks like I’m going to have my hands full for the foreseeable future. But come Thanksgiving, one thing I know I’ll be thankful for is that she’s still around to share it with us. Because honestly, it was a close thing.

As for the NaNoWriMo thing, I’m still going strong. Mostly. At least I’m right on track for where I should be 18 days in (or at least I will be once I get my daily writing session in today. But that wall hit in the middle of week 2 and it hit hard.

In college, I signed up for a martial arts class through the school because I needed a PhysEd credit. I had studied tae kwon do for the last couple of years of high school, so I figured it would be a breeze. Well…I was kinda right and kinda wrong. Because I had previous experience, I picked upon the concepts pretty quickly, but it was a much more advanced form of martial arts, what my sensei , Mr. Smith, termed the Fighting Arts, because it was intended to be Martial Arts for the real world, something that you could use in real-life situations. He incorporated my familiar tae kwon do as well as jujitsu, jeet kune do, judo, kung fu, aikido, and one or two more that I’ve since forgotten. Like I said, it was pretty intense. The summer of my second year studying under Mr. Smith, he held his version of a boot camp. No Martial Arts was involved at all, just straight-up physical training the old school way. Like working out with sections of telephone pole old school.

About 3 weeks in, the entire class was worn down. We were meeting 3 or 4 times a week and working an absolutely brutal physical regimen. Our bodies just gave out on us. We were physically exhausted. I was taking a summer Spanish class at the time and was struggling at it because my entire being was so exhausted. Finally, it got to the point where we were all showing signs of fatigue; none of us was motivated and we were doing the bare minimum at class that evening. Mr. Smith reamed us out for not working hard enough and sent us home.

I dreaded going to the next class. I felt like I had let Mr. Smith down by not working hard enough. I felt like I had let myself down. I was a hard worker and was used to excelling at whatever I put my energy into. I wasn’t accustomed to getting yelled at like that (not that it had been directed at me personally—it was directed at the class as a whole) and didn’t want to experience it again. And I still didn’t feel up for working out that night. But I went anyway. Mr. Smith entered the room and very matter-of-factly informed us that for the first 3 weeks he had been breaking us down, that the lack of energy we were all experiencing was an accumulation of weeks’ worth of hard physical work, that our bodies and minds were worn down. And now he would begin to build us back up. That class, we started a different regimen of exercises. After a single week, I felt great. After 3 more, I felt fantastic. I had more energy and mental capacity than I had ever had before. I was in the best shape of my life, before or since.

Week 2 of NaNo was kind of like that for me. I’m not accustomed to writing every single day. I’m not accustomed to spending hour upon hour doing it. I’m not accustomed to putting out 1000 or more words in a single session. Toward the end of week 2, my energy and stamina flagged in a big way. The daily goal for NaNo in order to finish on time is 1667 words a day on average. Day 10 I put out less than 1500 words; day 11, only about 1000, and day 12, just over 900. Admittedly, part of it was that I had long since entered unplanned territory because my story had taken some unexpected turns and I was struggling a bit to set up some of the basic concepts that drive the plot later in the book. It was delicate work and hard. And I was tired. I gave myself a pass because I was actually slightly ahead; earlier in the week, I had had a couple of very productive days.

But I pushed through it. I kept writing even though I didn’t really know what was going to happen next. And what happened surprised me. Two new characters were introduced that I hadn’t planned for and they drove the plot in a completely different direction than I had planned. But so far, I like them both; they’re mysterious, intriguing, fun to write, and maybe most importantly, they’re holding their own in the story. I don’t know how their characters are going to develop down the road or what their paths are going to be in relation to the main story, but I’m getting some hints here and there as I go. And I’m having fun with it, and that, I think, is the most important part.

As I said above, right now, I’m basically right on track at around 29,000 words. I’m experiencing some fatigue again and I really feel like I need a night or two away from it, but I’m bound and determined to hit that 50,000 word mark by the 30th. Like I said, I’m used to excelling at whatever I put my energy into—or at least I used to be. It’s honestly been a while since I’ve put this much energy into anything for myself, so I’m a bit out of practice. But I’m not going to let something like a little fatigue get in my way.

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