For many of us, the end of October means the golden wash of autumn, the faint and faraway sound of Coke’s Christmas truck, and NaNoWriMo.
In some cases, we try and we fail NaNoWriMo within the span of a week. In my case particularly. To celebrate my epic fail, I’m taking a look at 10 signs that you’re destined to fail NaNoWriMo. Because who doesn’t like celebrating failure?
1. You still don’t have an outline
Or you sort of do, but it lives in a document with a descriptive title like ‘i_am_a_failure.doc’. Several times a day, you read your Twitter timeline, are inspired, and return to the outline document on a second wind of inspiration.
You crack it open and are faced with the ineffable truth: imposter syndrome is very real and you haven’t a clue what shape your wordy mess should take.
2. You feel like NaNoWriMo’s encouraging emails are mocking you
Yesterday morning, their team suggested I double my total. DOUBLE ZERO IS STILL ZERO, NANOWRIMO!
3. You wonder how many days you could go without sleep
Or how much coffee will kill you. Just what is the shortest amount of time a person could conceivably write 50,000 words?
4. You’ve found novel ways to procrastinate
Like building WordPress websites, uploading three articles from your work blog, and passive-aggressively blogging about NaNoWriMo instead. With gifs.
Not that we’re talking about anyone specifically though.
Other excellent procrastination tactics include staring mournfully at the blinking cursor and blank screen, excessive drinking, eating whole packets of chocolate biscuits, and rearranging your socks. By colour and thread count. At least my procrastination is productive, eh? (#Productination)
5. You wish the fires of hell on friends, Romans, and countrymen boasting about their totals on Twitter
I mean it’s nice you’ve written 20,000 words this week, but did you know that Mozart procrastinated so hard that he wrote the overture to Don Giovanni the morning it premiered? I’m not saying I’m Mozart, but I could absolutely churn 50,000 words out.
6. You consider intense bribery or blackmail
Of yourself. All the way back in October 1830, Victor Hugo was faced with the damning deadline of FIVE MONTHS to write The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Like any sane person, Hugo bought a full bottle of
drink and essentially forced himself to write the novel. How?
He stripped off, locked all his clothes away, and wore nothing but a large grey shawl until his novel was written. His thinking? If he wore a grey shawl, he couldn’t leave the house as the locals wouldn’t have been too enamoured by his dangly bits.
Hugo finished the book before his deadline and briefly considered naming it ‘What Came Out of a Bottle of Ink’. It took 17 years for his opus, Les Misérable, to see the light of day so I can only imagine how cold his nipples must have been.
But seriously: locking your clothes away is an option.
7. Your phone is full of notes written at 3 in the morning – but none have seen the light of day
You’ve jotted down notes on the way to work or late at night that track various plot ideas, snippets of dialogue, character motivation, and plot pieces.
Some of it makes sense. Some of it should be banished to the ether forever. None of it has actually been used in an actual piece of writing. Whoops.
8. You’ve considered ringing your boss with terrible excuses
All so you can take the day off and gather your thoughts so you can actually start your goddamn novel.
What? Nanowritis could be a real thing.
9. You have no idea where all your time has gone
Time is one of the few things in life that can never be recovered. (That, and dignity.) Try as you might, you still can’t find a solid block to actually tackle NaNoWriMo.
You can’t ever get yesterday back, and man-made as time is, we’ve yet to figure out how to actually manipulate it. Until then, the flashing cursor and the awning silence of you-not-typing is haunting.
10. You’ve decided that all writing advice is bullshit
And yes, much of it is. ‘Don’t’s and ‘never’s and nixing all adverbs and writing everyday are all fine and dandy but writing isn’t a science. Advice isn’t truth. Another person’s journey isn’t yours. A template or format that worked for thousands of other people might not work for you. (Looking at you, snowflake method.)
Writing is the same for all of us: we put words on a page.
The rest is you. Or me. Or that one person on Twitter who is updating their timeline every hour with mammoth word counts.
Write your book. Or don’t write your book.
Whether you finish NaNoWriMo or not, your cat might still want to kill you. And that, friends, is science. (Probably.)