So after the long and extensive month of November – and the horrendous, agonizing pain of going through my first NaNoWriMo experience – I have discovered that having too much on one’s plate can burn one out fast.
But! There’s always a chance to keep the flame going, even when your candle is on its last piece of wax.
This last month I had to stop and ask myself if my novel was going anywhere? I have so many ideas for this one book (and the potential series to follow) that my story was becoming muddled and the characters were growing to be too stale. I did not know what to do or how to even attempt to do anything to stop this terrible writing experience. It was not writer’s block. No. It was worse: writer’s cramp. My words were getting too jumbled and ideas were clashing everywhere. My book was falling apart. And how did I fix it? By crying in the corner, asking what did I do to deserve this!
But after that melodramatic scene, I got up, returned to my work, and tore it apart, analyzing each bit. I found that my original outline was complete crap. But I also found that I was so focused on getting the writing done that I did not focus on the story. I decided to take a step back and plan out my next steps to get back on track. I needed to focus on my attitude and my lacking focus. And here’s how I did it!
- Take a step back from what you’re doing and BREATHE! – If you are seriously stressed out from something, you need to take a literal breather. The oxygen to your brain will do you some good, while the act of concentrating on your breathing will calm you down.
- Write down your main goal at the top of a sheet of paper. – Have a clear main goal in mind and put it on a physical sheet of paper to help you keep it in mind.
- On the same sheet, list everything you need to do in order to get to your main goal. – This may seem overwhelming at first, but listing everything you need to get done in order to achieve your goal will help you not forget anything while working towards it.
- Reorder everything on your list. REMEMBER! List them by what needs to be done first and/or how easy each task is.
- Write when you want to achieve your main goal. – Do you want to get this done in a week? A month? A year?
- Write out how much time you can give to work on your list. – If you only have one hour to dedicate to a huge list of to-dos each day, then don’t expect to get fifty steps done in just one week.
- Start at the top of your list and work your way done, striking out tasks (NOT erasing them) when you’re done. – Instead of erasing each task, or deleting them if you are typing the list up, and striking them out will allow you to see all of the work you have done so far. This actually gives a sense of accomplishment.
- Celebrate when you are done and have made it to your main goal! – Yay!
Need an example how this applies in real life? Let’s just take an example of a college kid needing to get his essay done in a month.