“If you are going through hell, keep going.” — Winston Churchill
Does it feel like a slog yet? For some folks, that comes during Week Three. For others, it starts on Week Two. I’m not experiencing a great deal of it, but there have been moments when I’ve looked at the words that are still yet to go and I just groaned. I know it’s going to get more difficult as I start trying to fill in the connective tissue of my major scenes. Those are the worst moments.
But as we can see the midpoint drawing closer, there’s also the fact that we have two options now: go forward or give up. We can junk everything we’ve done to this point. Move the file on your hard drive, delete it, whatever makes you happy. I’ve done that. My second NaNo, I was about halfway through when I told my friends who were also participating in the madness (and were the ones who’d dragged me in) that I wasn’t going to make it, that the project wasn’t working and it was better for me and my sanity if I just let it go.
There are times when letting go is the right thing to do. It was then and that idea has never been revisited, unlike a number of others. I didn’t do that lightly, though, but after some thought. At that point, I realized the story not only wasn’t working, but it was actively causing enough stress trying to continue that I not only didn’t want to write on that, I didn’t want to write at all.
Sometimes, walking away is the best thing one can do. Illness, family crisis, a computer that just rolls over and dies, taking your manuscript with it — those are reasons to say, “Not this year.” (And you really should be backing up regularly. But that’s another post.) If you’re in a position where taking even just one thing off your plate can feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulder, you might want to consider it.
Most of the times, though, it’s simply the easiest reaction to resistance, deciding not to do the slog. Of course there’s resistance. When you’re fried at the end of the day, writing is hard. You’d rather collapse on the couch and watch Elementary. I’d rather collapse on the couch and watch Elementary; I haven’t gotten to see the season premiere yet because I’ve been writing. I want to watch the word count ratchet up, though, see myself inch closer to the finish line. Can I finish before the 30th, be one of those people who have their “Winner” banner disgustingly early? Can I make more than 50,000 words, get most of an entire first draft finished? These are the thoughts that keep me going when the going gets touch, when it feels like hell and all I want to do is stop.
You’re hopefully hiting 20,000 words today or pushing beyond that. Yeah, getting there can be hell. But when you’re there, doesn’t it feel good?
That’s why we keep going.