How to combat Nanowrimo guilt

Face of a Champion Nanowrimo Non Finisher!

Preptober is in full swing and we're eking ever closer to Nanowrimo! How are you holding up?

I love Nano because it gives you that added push to write your novel. You have other people there to support you and everyone has the same goal. It adds a lovely social dimension to writing your book and you can join in a whole host of fun activities like writing springs or live feeds.

But it also comes with Nanowrimo Guilt, a term I've coined for that vague panic that sets in when you miss your first scheduled day writing. Once you have it, the NG is super hard to shake. It can hamper your progress and in some cases make you throw in the towel.

Trust me, I know what I'm talking about here. 

You are looking at a consistent Nanowrimo Non-Finisher!

You spend October planning, world-building, Pinteresting an aesthetic and all those other lovely prep tasks that go with your novel. Then November hits and the pressure is suddenly on. Now you have to sit and make those reams of paper and files into something concrete. No longer can your airily tell people you're going to be a writer, darling. Now it's time to put fingers to keyboards and actually write something.

You have a word counter from Etsy, an app on your phone and your Facebook writers group all with the set target of so many words per day. Nanowrimo is usually 50k for the month but really, you can set any target that you like. You sit down for the first day with your target in mind and the words appear on the page. Easy! Nothing to it. Keep this progress up and you'll have a finished book sitting on your laptop in just over a month! Well done you lovely old thing, you.

This streak might last a couple days, a week or if you're really lucky, until the second week. For me I've never got past the end of the second week. Then all of a sudden life pops up. You get tired, you get an invite, there's a con on, there's a family thing happening, you get sick, the kids are grizzly, work gets tougher and you have technical issues out the wazoo.

 A day goes by without anything appearing on your page. Never mind, you can catch up tomorrow. Only tomorrow goes by and life is still manic. No words appear on your page. Never mind that either, look, we can do a writing binge at the weekend. But you're so tired on the weekend that all you do is sleep, maybe spend time with your family - as long as they don't ask you how your novel is going. Before you know it a week and a half has passed and you've written nothing.

 The goal you set seems impossible now, you're so far behind in your word count. You calculate how many words you'd have to write a day and the figure is so high you squeak and tip a little vodka into your coffee.

But everywhere on Facebook there are successful Nano-ers. They're hitting their writing goals without any issues, somehow easily meeting the life tasks that tripped you up. People are completing Nano early even, with cheeky Insta photos of "THE END" written on manuscripts. You however are still stuck with twenty pages and a vague worry that you've got the crisis point of the book ALL WRONG.

What do you do?

If you're me, you throw the towel in and leave all the Nano/Writer groups so no-one can see your shame. You hide your planning or tell yourself that you will eventually write this novel, you're just really more of a marathon runner than a sprinter. The NG sets in and you tell yourself that you're not even that, heck, you're not even on the athletics track at all! Will you ever finish a novel? Will Nano somehow find out that you never finished and send you out an email telling you to stop calling yourself a writer?

Hush now.

Listen close.

We're making new plans this Nano and we're banishing this Nanowrimo Guilt forever. Get out your Bible, your incense, your sage, whatever you want. Salt the doors and windows. Call a Winchester.

If you fall behind this Nanowrimo with your word count, you don't throw the towel in like you used to (are you listening, Self?) You readjust the goal. 50,000 is unachievable in the time you've got left? Alright, let's make it 30. 20. 10 even. Whatever you think you'll be able to manage. That's your new expectation, your new goal. You're still in Nano, you're still in the running.

What matters is getting the words down on the page, setting a routine and sticking to it. Whether it's 5 or 5000 words on a page in one day, you still wrote something and you know what?

You showed up.

You showed up when it was tough going and life was pounding on the door. You got words down, you kept on creating a world and telling the story in your head. That's what the world needs more of - - more stories, more creativity.

You are much more likely to keep going with Nano if you readjust your goals and realise that yes, life has gotten in the way and kicked your butt. You're going to keep going and show life that yeah, bring it on. Nothings stopping me.

And as for the "guilt and shame" you get when looking at everyone on Facebook happily documenting their progress?

Stop that.

You aren't seeing what's going on behind the Instagram shot.



Ps. What are you working on for Nano? Drop me a line and let me know! I'm working on a new urban fantasy novel - SONS OF EARTH. Angels, Nephilim and forbidden romance - what's not to love? Well, in forbidden romance, I guess, quite a lot but anyway - whoever let the truth get in the way of a good story!