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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Updates from a NaNoWriMo Battlefield

Photo | EKHumphrey
This is the blog post where I admit that I’m still on the battlefield, but I have no plans for winning the battle. (I refuse to call myself defeated.) Two weeks ago I braved jumping into NaNoWriMo without a plan, a story outline, or a writing schedule. (Thank you for all the cheering after my November 1 post! I appreciated it!) Diving into NaNoWriMo was less pressure for me than in other years, but I knew it would still require a commitment of my time.

I wish I could claim that I haven’t been writing for the contest because of some other fantastic project. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In this time, the biggest realization I’ve come to is that—writing or no writing—I’m not putting aside enough time for me.

For example, those times when I had a spare moment, my focus shifted from writing to helping my daughters clean their room during a crisis—a buyer contacted us to buy their beds we were replacing and we would do some repairs. Or I was diving into the launch of my email list free gift. (That excitement was lessened by some last-minute editorial changes that took time.) These were not the only things that became a bump in the road. Unfortunately, I’ve let individual bumps grow into a mountain that was between me and my writing.

For the next two weeks, I’m going to shift my focus. Obviously, I’m not going to finish a novel in the next fifteen days. But I know I want to finish it. What I can do is I can put a plan in place to at least get writing during this busy time. And these are tips that are applicable post-NaNoWriMo.

  • Refrain from reading (too much). Don’t get me wrong, I love to read. Lately  I find that if I check my phone or email, I start clicking on links. Thirty minutes later, I’ve started reading the longest article in the history of the world. It’s a sign of my procrastination, which I need to curtail.
  • Plan better. The bed fiasco sucked more time than necessary because I let it. I could have stepped back and allowed my kids more autonomy while I supervised. I thought by jumping in, I would get return to writing time. Instead, I was pulled deeper into my kids’ activities. (Totally worth it, mind you, but I still could have planned better!) This weekend, we are throwing a birthday party...and I've been planning!
  • Better buddy contact. I needed to check in with my NaNoWriMo friends and give them support. I find having those writing conversations energizing, but I haven’t made time for them…yet!
  • Shuffle writing time. I’m a morning writer, so I often tell myself I can’t write creatively later in the day. So, for the next two weeks, if I don’t write in the mornings, I vow to write during my lunch hour or before bed at night. I will be writing, no matter the time of day.

What have you been doing to reach your writing goals, NaNoWriMo or others? What have you had to rearrange or stop doing in order to make progress on your work-in-progress?
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her free guide, Harmonizing: Find and Communicate to Your Audience, helps health and wellness professionals communicate with their potential clients.


  1. Elizabeth--A year or two ago, I called myself a "NaNoWriMo Rebel." Perhaps it's not too late for you to join those ranks?

    I set a small goal of 15,000 in this month--adding onto a previous NaNoDisaster. I hope to reach the goal...but at this point, I'm not confident.

    Good luck. Win some battles...and then, you might win the war.

  2. This is my 7th year to participate in NaNoWriMo. Being a mom of four teens, I find it easy to deny myself the "right" to write, allowing all of the other things in life to take priority. The thing I love about NaNoWriMo is that it gives me the excuse I think I need to focus my efforts on writing...and to write a lot. NaNo works for some and not for others, and that's okay, as long as we keep writing!


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