How to channel panic

For those of you who have participated in NaNoWriMo, you are well familiar with panic. Same goes for those who have worked against a hard deadline. Some of us thrive on panic – we were the ones who waited until 2am the day a 20 page term paper was due before starting.  (Some call this procrastination, but I like to think of it as motivation…)

So now we’re in the last days of the August Camp NaNo, and I took 9 days off from writing to get some other things done due to my recent cataract diagnosis, as well as being editor-in-chief of my husband’s upcoming book (now in the publication process). In the NaNo events I’ve participated in the past (3 of them), I’ve crossed the finish line for a NoNo “win” somewhere around the middle of the month, and been at close to 90k and finished with the novel (or done with the 130 page screenplay) well before now. But this month is different, and I am going to be going pretty close to the wire. (August has 31 days, and all WriMos are appreciative of that extra day!)

I wrote 4273 words yesterday, and am at 37,742. If I stay on track with 4-5,000 a day, I’ll hit 50k on the 30th. The good news is that I’m really enjoying the book right now, which is weird at this middle point – usually that’s the doldrums of novel-writing. And since it’s YA, even though I won’t be done on the 30th, I’ll be close, so hopefully by Labor Day it will be a completed first draft.

In truth, I’m not really panicked about the NaNo novel. AFTER the NaNo novel, though, I have to do a 2nd and then final edit on The Hoard of the Doges. And here’s where my adrenaline starts to kick in and perhaps a few beads of sweat pop out… Because right now, if it were up to my left eye, I would only be able to read HUGE letters (I was going to show you, but WordPress doesn’t seem to want to let me change the font size…). Anyway, if you have a Kindle, it’s the 2nd biggest font, which gives you about 20 words on a page. And that’s now. By next week, it’ll probably be the biggest font.

All in all, since I have one good eye, it’s not terrible, but it is a strain, and typically I edit at least the first draft on paper. But the type is probably going to be too small. Which throws me off my groove, since I am fond of different color inks and arrows and notes. I realize I could change the publication schedule, but I really don’t want to. The cataract is temporary, as I keep reminding myself, and it really annoys me to have my body dictate my life. So I’m going to stubbornly carry on.

Hence channeling the panic. Thankfully, I have the NaNo excperience to help me. My first NaNo, I was well and truly panicked until I crossed 50k on November 16. By then I was really into the story, had figured out how to structure my life to accommodate writing, and was even managing to get dinner on the table for my family each night. So I’m going to take that same persistence and determination and plug along, working every day so that, by the time I either can’t read or the surgery comes around, I don’t have to do anything and won’t feel like a 50lb anvil is hanging over my head. (Ever feel like Wile E. Coyote?)

If we don’t follow the “flight” part of our fight or flight reaction to panic, it is actually pretty useful. Sure, the adrenaline eventually burns itself out and we end up exhausted. But if we got a lot accomplished before that happens, we can take a well-deserved nap. Taking control of that energy and putting it to good use is the key… I plan to channel it, use it, and come out the other side.




Filed under NaNoWriMo, Publishing, Self publishing, Writing

2 responses to “How to channel panic

  1. You’re so right about using the ‘fight’ to your advantage as long as we can pass over the ‘flight’ part of the response. I’m not up against nearly what you are at the moment but I’m also feeling a bit of panic about reaching the 50k word goal for the month. I had set out to reach 62k. At this point, that would take over 6200 words/day so I’m shooting for the more reasonable 3247 words/day to reach the 50k goal. Either way, like you, the story won’t be finished. It’s just good to keep going.

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