A Warning for NaNoWriMo: Slow and Steady

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Sam,

Recently on my Facebook ‘Memories’ notification, I found an article I posted to my timeline exactly 1 year ago. For some reason, I never thought to make a post to the Pen-Dragon . . . until now.

Conveniently, National Novel Writing Month is just a few days away, so I’m going to be shelving out this post’s advice to those brave writers about to dive into this treacherous battle. Though I have not participated in NaNoWriMo (not having the time to develop and write a brand new novel when I already have projects developing), but I think I’ve written long enough and witnessed enough friends going through this process to know how best to probably tackle this challenge.

The-Legend-of-the-Five-EldersSo this article, found here, talked about how to really take breaks. And when I say breaks, I mean when the brain is not stimulated at all. What we think of resting usually means laying on the couch and surfing the internet, but it actually isn’t resting. Sure it’s resting the body but not the brain. The article explains how doing the simplest tasks, such as checking Facebook, still requires the brain to fire hundreds of neurons in order to make the tiniest decision. That isn’t resting, which means you’re not getting the most out of your passive periods as you do from your active ones. If you don’t rest properly, or even at all, and keep charging balls-to-the-wall to achieve your goals, then you’ll likely end up unsatisfied and weary from desperation. Most times, it’s wiser to pause while working on your goals and take a slower, more controlled approach. Working straight till you finish, while seemingly like an honest, committed method of doing things, will render you exhausted. This is precisely why I seem to only be able to write effectively for 2-3 hours a day before I become distracted and ready to get up and move. If I forced myself to write for longer than 3 hours until I got something “good” out of it, I would likely want to be at any other place than in front of my writing after that amount of time and have nothing to show for extra effort.

This advice may be acute to laziness, like you never want to finish anything, wanting to quit early. But that’s a misinterpretation. I’m not saying give up once you get tired. I’m saying once you get tired, put a pin in it before you damage whatever progress you’ve already made with reckless desperation to finish.
slow-progress

The quote above summarizes what I’ve gathered from this article perfectly. It’s what I’ve understood to be my life since starting Project Stripes. Each day I may write a little or a lot, but no matter the word count, I’m working on Arthur’s story. “Slow progress is progress.” Take that to heart when you embark on NaNoWriMo if you chose to do so. Some days you won’t write as much as you think. It’s okay. Know that in time the inspiration will come, and you’ll be on a roll.

There is one more thing I would like to say before I close. As great as it is to talk about actually resting, limiting the brain’s stimulation, I think that sounds like a hellova lot to expect for someone who’s passion draws from the realm of imagination. I sometimes have a slight twitch in my fingers whenever they lay idle most likely because, as my doctor said, all the epinephrine running through my blood due to my brain’s constant activity. I feel like I’m always thinking. So you can imagine how I didn’t truly take this article seriously until a year after I read it. I didn’t want to think about not thinking. It’s the kind of challenge that takes discipline and much determination to shut out everything and find an inner stillness. I guess the best method of actual rest would be meditation or some version of it. The article doesn’t really list any options of brain resters. It’s up to the rest of us to figure out ways of taking it easy. Some real good news to come out of all of this: we have a good excuse now when we say we want to take a nap.

Cheers.

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