Thursday, November 8, 2018

Dear O'Abby: My body is conspiring against me winning NaNo. Help!

Dear O'Abby,

I signed up to do NaNo this year for the first time and a week in, I'm already struggling.  I did tons of prep beforehand and I know what I want to write, but I have a physical condition which makes it difficult to sit in one position very long, and it's hindering my ability to reach the necessary word count each day.  I already have anxiety issues, and not reaching my daily word count is making me even more anxious. And that's making it even harder to write. Do you have any advice?


Word Panic

Dear Word Panic,

I don't know exactly what your situation is, but you mention physical discomfort while sitting too long.  Is there a possibility you could stand?  I use a standing desk at work and that has immeasurably improved a long-standing struggle I had with arm, back and shoulder pain.  If you can't get yourself a standing desk, it's possible to raise your computer or desk using phone books, bricks, dictionaries and the like.  I also find the kitchen counters are a good height for standing and typing.

If that's not an option, maybe you could break your writing time down into small chunks so you can sit and write only as long as it's comfortable.  Then stop, do something else, and go back to the writing when you feel like you can sit again.  You will soon figure out how many words you can get through in each chunk so you'll be able to figure out how many writing sessions you will need to reach your word count each day, and how to schedule them around the rest of your life.

But even if you don't figure it out, at least you gave it a shot.  You got some words on a page. NaNo isn't for everyone.  Some people thrive on the pressure of having a daily goal to reach, but for others, it's added stress that isn't needed.  Especially while juggling everyday life as well.

If NaNo is making you anxious and you're feeling like you can't cope, it's not the end of the world if you stop.  No one is going to die if you don't write 50,000 words in November.  It's no crime if you take until January to hit that 50K mark.  What's important is that you want to write a book, and you've started it.  Keep writing, even if you're not writing the 1,667 words a day NaNo dictates.  Write what you can and keep going.

X O'Abby


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  2. I have a medical condition - multiple sclerosis - and my only way to survive NaNo is to pace myself and not to panic about my word count. I'm in a wheelchair so I can't stand - sleeping is my best option as fatigue is a big issue. But I have to accept that a daily word count isn't always possible and some years 50k isn't. I therefore set a more achievable target and that's a win.


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