Writing in a Funk

This is the saddest sloth I could find. Sloths don't get gloomy. What is your secret to eternal happiness, sloths?

This is the saddest sloth I could find. Sloths don’t get gloomy. What is your secret to eternal happiness, sloths?

One of the most difficult things for me to do is write when I’m gloomy, and that’s been me this week. Maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s because I didn’t get the job I wanted, maybe it’s because I really miss Game of Thrones. Whatever it is, it has me in a considerable funk. I can barely get myself to do homework, much less write.

This week’s writing check in proves it. I only wrote 837 words between 1/16 and 1/22, and I had five zero days. That’s worse than last week on both counts, and most of those words were written yesterday when I was trying to sleep. Not the best writing routine in the world.

I try to write in this mood, sure. I open Scrivener and stare at my chosen story, but my brain just empties out. I am inexorably drawn to iPhone games or the sweet, sweet release of the midday nap. I think that if I can just start writing, if I can just get a few words down, those words will turn into sentences and into paragraphs and pages and I’ll feel better.

This post isn’t about me having a magic answer to this problem. I’m still trying to find it. I know that I need to learn to power through these moods and write. If I want to write for a living – which I do – then I have to learn that I can’t be so prone to skipping writing for a week just because I’m blah. Writing is what I love, yes, and it can be fun and exhilarating and magical – but it’s also work. I need to be able to write even when the magic’s not quite there.

NaNoWriMo and Procrastination

Today’s November 19th. To most of you, that probably doesn’t mean much. But to those out there participating in the annual insanity that is National Novel Writing Month, today is when we’re down to eleven days. Wherever we are in our word counts, we have eleven days to reach that magical 50,000 mark.

To those who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, here’s a quick intro. During the month of November every year, tens of thousands of writers embark on a quest to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s roughly 1667 words a day. There are people who have no trouble with it and actually write upwards of 100,000 words during November, and those people are dead to me. I think I’m more on the median of people who survive November. This is my seventh year – yep, I’ve been doing this every year since I was 15 – and I intend for it to be my sixth win. I have to claw my way to the finish line every year, but I make it. Except for, you know, that one year, which we won’t talk about.

I actually had a strong start to this year’s NaNoWriMo. I hit 10k before the end of the first weekend. Then, somewhere around 16k, I started stalling out. I’ve struggled to get to the 20k mark, and as of posting this, have barely cracked it. (You can see my progress throughout November in the sidebar.) In the first week, the NaNo site told me I was on track to finish on November 17th. Now it predicts a grim December 13th. So what happened?

To be honest, I’m not sure yet, but I’m going to bet a big part of it is my inability to keep the Procrastination Monster at bay. I open up Scrivener, and then I open up SelfControl and think, “I should set this for 30 minutes. I could bang out at least 1500 words in that time, and, hey, that’s almost all of my words for the day.”

But before I click start, I inevitably slide my cursor over to Firefox and wind up on Tumblr. My ‘About’ page notes that I would get a lot more writing done if I wasn’t on Tumblr so much, and that’s true. I start scrolling through my dashboard and then think, “Okay, Sarah, go write.” But then my dash tells me I have 30 new posts to look at. That’s not that many! I should go check them out. Ahahaha, wow, Homestuck fandom, you so crazy. What is that guy doing? How do cats even exist they are just so cute [insert keyboard mashing here].

Before I know it, I’ve wasted two hours on Tumblr. You’d think I’d kick my own ass and go write, but instead I think, “The new day has probably started on FuneralQuest. It doesn’t take me that long to play my turns.” That then turns into, “Oh, better check my webcomics.” Then, “I wonder what’s going on on Facebook…” and “Oh, I should play my Triple Town turns!” At this point, there’s probably 100+ new posts on Tumblr, and where do you think I end up? Throughout this, I probably have my full series re-watch of West Wing going in the corner. (I’m watching episode 13 of season 7 while I write this post. Shit’s getting real, yo!)

Unfortunately, this post doesn’t have a grand lesson or any advice to other writers struggling with procrastination. I’m still trying to figure those things out myself. I know I have to figure it out. I want to be a writer. I know I have to kick my own ass and start writing every day. It’s turning out that’s a lot easier said than done for me, and it’s making this NaNoWriMo win a tricky one.

Do you have any advice? How do you make yourself stop procrastinating? Is it easy for you to write every day, or do you struggle? How’s NaNoWriMo going, if you’re doing it? If you’re not, does it interest you?

To make up for a post that is more rant than advice, later this week I’ll be posting about apps and programs for writers that I’ve found to be incredibly useful. Right now, I’m going to try to write. See you tomorrow for Tuesday Reads.