21 days down, 35124 words down. 9 days left, 14876 words left.
I’ve finally brought my count back above par via a steady, wordy weekend and a few extremely productive “waiting for your wife after work” sessions. I’ve finished (and I use the term very, very loosely) 14 of my planned 20 stories, but also came up with ideas for 6 more stories while I was writing the others. Brains are weird sprawling idea farms, just waiting for the thresher of your imagination to come through and harvest all that nutritious mind-wheat.
Lessons learned this week:
1. Sometimes, distractions are good: I’ve been overloaded with school work and work work, to the point where I was finding it difficult to mentally upshift to my creative gears quickly enough to get any NaNoing done. So instead of smashing my head against my laminate desk, I decided to try and use the mindset I was already in to write something. The end result was one story that is highly technical with lots of science and numbers due to dominant left brain thinking (brought on by my day job), and another that is almost a long form prose poem completely made of right brain ramblings (from working on a school assignment).
I have no idea if these will stay in the collection – or if they are any good for that matter – but it taught me that state of mind doesn’t always need to be optimal to make word count.
2. Keyboard, or I’m bored: This is something I discovered last year, that has proven true again this year. The right keyboard makes ALL the difference for me. I can’t seem to get comfortable on certain makes and models, especially those that don’t have a satisfying thwack and clack when I’m writing feverishly. I can make do on my laptop, but I prefer a standalone, wired keyboard, with a scarce few bells and whistles (volume and media controls are allowed). I also for whatever reason, cannot write productively on a completely flush mounted keyboard, and don’t even try to write on a touchpad keyboard. Those things creep me out, especially with the fake tactile response.
I know, I’m weird. Whatever, I’ll just be that guy who demands a keyboard-n-mouse 20 years from now, long after the technology has been sunset, just like that weird old guy with the giant beard in your office who demands he use a typewriter for all this documents.
3. Quitting is for people who aren’t good at not quitting: I had a few times this month where I just had so many deadlines and due dates and other crap going on that I could have said, “Oliver, you gave it a good old fashioned college try, but maybe it’s just not yours this year.” But I didn’t. Because the only thing I hate more than being completely overwhelmed, is feeling like I gave up on myself. And squids. Seriously, fuck squids. Giant creepy tentacled jerks.
Giving up is easy. It’s the get-out-of-jail free card for your psyche; the “don’t worry about it champ, there’s always the next game” mentality. But it’s also lazy, and counter-productive. NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to build your confidence. You’re allowed to write whatever you want, however you want, with no real pressure or ramifications, and no one telling you what is good and what is bad. No editors sending you emails asking for drafts, no boss not-so-subtly reminding you that it is due by COB Friday.
This is your chance to prove that you can finish a project, and the conditions will never be more appropriate or forgiving. This is a chance for you to prove to yourself that you’re as awesome as you always think you are. Quitting is for people who are not-awesome. Are you not awesome? No. You are awesome. Go be awesome. Don’t quit.
Chuck Wending (of TerribleMinds) wrote a much more hilarious and inspirational post about the same idea. You should check it out.
4. Second winded: It feels great to be back above par. Sometimes the cure for your lack of productivity is to have one or two really productive days. It’s like having more energy after you get back from a really intense workout; it doesn’t really make sense, but it’s a phenomenon you should take full, sweaty advantage of.
Drink of choice: I just realized that I forgot to include my writing drink of choice last week! So here’s double duty for this week:
1. Flying Dog K-9 Winter Ale: Sweet, 7.4% ABV, slowly becoming a new winter favorite for me. Full review coming post-NaNo.
2. Rumbeard’s Rum-cider: So this isn’t exactly an original recipe, but it is something I always served to my gaming friends during the sub-30 degree months, and it’s been a hit for years. One part spiced rum (Sailor Jerry’s or Cap’t Morgans, usually) two parts apple cider, one cinnamon stick to flavor and stir, 90 seconds in the microwave. And for all those wondering, “Rumbeard” is my long standing gamer handle. I’ll tell you the story one day over some grog.