NaNo is a struggle this year

I’ve done a couple of ‘NaNo diaries’ over in my WriYe progress thread. I am trying not to spam it too much and it’s Day Eleven, so I figured I could update here. Technically I am still on pace for the 50k. If I don’t write today then that will no longer be true but what I mean is I’m still in the vicinity of that 50k pace.

But it’s not what I wanted, nor what I planned.

I wanted to finish the draft this month and I wanted to do so by the 28th so I could spend the 29th playing Dragonflight on Launch Day. For a 75k/28 pace, I will be 12k behind if I don’t write today. So I am both sort of ‘on target’ and very far behind. That hit me a minute ago as it’s all a matter of perspective. Back in 2007 when I first tried NaNo I would have been thrilled to have been on pace for 50k. Now it’s not enough, I’m not satisfied with it.

Why is it a struggle?

My mental health is not good. It’s got worse over time and I don’t seem to be able to reverse that trend. I had hoped that moving into my own house would be something of a ‘magic bullet’ but while there is lots to love, it hasn’t aided my productivity how I’d hoped. I feel mentally exhausted, I keep crying, I just want to curl up in a corner. Symptoms of overwhelm I guess. I need the onslought to stop, but that includes my own mind. So simply taking myself to a quiet, dark space isn’t a cure – it’s simply more poison.

I was expressing my frustration that this was still a problem now everything in my life is so much better with the house. It was suggested I had perhaps overdone it. The whole moving rollercoaster took pretty much a year. For the month prior to moving I redecorated the entire house which involved long days, every single day. I was drawing on an empty tank and just kept going because I wanted it done, and I wanted to move.

My response was that even if that was true – I’ve lived here nearly two months now, so shouldn’t I be over it? It took a few weeks for the pain in my joints to wear off, but it eventually did, so there has been recovery time. To blame my current state on the past doesn’t seem right but I guess it wasn’t just the past month, or even the past year. My mental health has been steadily getting worse for more than a decade. While the triggers for the chronic stress are no longer present, or have changed, over that time, my brain is still ‘trained’ if you like, to have those ingrained negative thought patterns. I don’t quite know how to fix that.

Why am I making this post? What am I hoping to achieve?

Well it’s not simply to complain. I’m trying so hard to reframe how I see things. I didn’t fail, I had a learning experience etc. So I thought perhaps as I’m struggling to write my current novel I should remind myself of past successes. Now, I’m not good at calling anything a success because the second I reach a goal, I am moving onto the next one. There’s always more to do. But NaNo is a first draft, so let’s just think about completed first drafts – not about how bad they were, or how much work they need, just the fact that they exist. They were complete drafts of stories that I typed ‘The End’ on.

Perfidy (Rewrite)
Fault Lines
Fall of Camelot
Carbon Scars

Obviously that list isn’t complete in terms of work. Perfidy only got drafted beginning to end twice, but I have pieces of at least three other attempts at that draft. I started a redraft of Fault Lines (calling it Shadow Play) but only made it halfway through. I have half a draft of Reckoning (aka book three). I have the start of Blood on the Board I was trying to write as a luddite project this year. Then of course there’s the mountain of fanfics, and a fair few of those were novel-length. They also exist. They are also complete stories.

So at the very least I can say on 9 separate occasions I have written a draft of an original novel that was 50k+ from beginning to end. I have done that. Therefore I can do it again.

Now I may not finish my draft this month how I would like. I may have to finish it off next month instead. I need to understand that’s ok. NaNo is a 50k/30 challenge. Yes I can give myself an additional challenge if I’d like but think about Day One. Par was 1,667, for my 75k/28 it was 2,679. I set myself a daily goal of 3k, and for Day One I said 5k as a buffer, and secretly I wanted 10k. I ended up with 6,703. That was a success by any measure but because I didn’t hit the dream 10k I was disappointed.

It’s quite probable that my misery stems from the fact that I don’t believe I can catch up and that my ‘dream goal’ of 75k by the 28th isn’t possible. So in typical self-sabotage I’m now struggling to do anything. I can’t stop dreaming, I can’t stop wanting more, but I’m hoping that by putting it in black and white here ^^ I can maybe start to get it through my thick skull that progress has been made.