Postponing NaNoWriMo — When life gets in the way

Sometimes the most ambitious of us has to admit and respect that life can get in the way of our plans. This is not new for Novembers, last year my son had an eye infection that needed a four-day hospital stay, not taking into account the worries and fears that brings with it. I can’t write in that state. Creativity needs calmness of mind and freedom of thought, at least for me.

And this year, November proves to be a challenge again. After starting off quite well with NaNoWriMo (read more about the writing challenge here), again life got in the way. My child had an eye correction and was operated on this week. All went well, but those days proved hard in terms of focussing on the word count. So I did what I could and left it there.

Then we got nervous about his healing process. The eye was swollen and very red, all sticky and painful in the mornings. So we took NO chances and drove him back to the doctor to get reassurance that we would NOT again end up in hospital like last year. He still needs painkillers and won’t let anybody touch his eye, which is understandable but extremely hard for the application of medicine, which avoids infections … so full cycle: we have to force him to prevent further damage, there is no other option, much as we hate this parental task.

Then yesterday, out of pure sympathy, I guess, I myself contracted bacteria and within hours had a swollen, infectious eye. No writing last night, but instead a long and dark drive on a narrow road through a very remote forest to reach the eye doctor on emergency duty in his hidden mansion in the woods. (I will use this little adventure and setting for one of my next stories). A conjunctivitis isn’t dangerous but painful and I should rest the eyes.

Wonderful. All taken into account, I feel behind badly for NaNoWriMo and will rather rest this evening than write exhausted junk out of pure despair.

Which leads me to: What to do when November proves to be petulant and life doesn’t go according to the writing schedule:

First and foremost: Don’t panic. Trust me, I did there for a moment. Several moments, in fact. Human, but useless. Instead, I applied my tested relaxation methods to be able to deal with what spoke life put in my wheel.

Yoga, regularly, combined with breathing techniques, works wonders. Distracting myself from the depressed and angry thoughts to what I need to do to cope with the most imminent problems.

That is not writing, shameful as it is. Health issues have to be sorted out, and thoroughly so.

At the moment, I just tick off all that needs doing for the family and to get us all back on track (and into kindergarten) again, so I can finally see some light at the end of this winding tunnel to sit and WORK again. But later.

Meanwhile, the clock that is NaNoWriMo is ticking. But I can’t change things and decided that once I am back in my office chair, I will do some serious word sprints with my beloved and helpful writing buddy. And if that doesn’t help, I will have to make December my writing month. The project is scheduled to be published in that magazine, yes, but the next two issues are already catered for, so I can relax in that respect and just continue when the sky is blue again. In the meantime, I put down notes and just plot and plan what I cannot put to paper now.

And so should you. It is always possible and often unavoidable, that our plans and schedules are messed up and we have to re-organise and sort out stuff we hadn’t planned on touching. It is not a catastrophe. It can feel like that — for some hopefully short, awful moments. Then we need to prioritise and just work from day to day, maybe write 200 words instead of 1667 each day, or postpone the whole writing challenge. It is not the end of the world.

This is what I tell myself when the mood gets gloomy.

What do you do when life gets in the way of your writing plans? Are there any techniques or thoughts that help you to pull through and you would like to share with us below?

I’d be really happy and curious to read about your ideas and experiences with an endangered or even failed NaNoWriMo month!



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