The October Panic

Wednesday, October 03, 2018
So here it is October, a whiff of pumpkin spice in the air, swirls of red, gold, and brown leaves in the neighbor’s yard, and maybe somewhere, folks are even pulling on their favorite boots. And as you, dear writer, sip on your toasty beverage and gaze out the window at the leaf blower sending all those swirling dead leaves into your backyard, all you can think is, “WAIT, WHAT? NANO IS JUST ONE MONTH AWAY! 2018 IS ENDING IN A FEW MONTHS! AND WHAT HAVE I ACCOMPLISHED? WHAT? WHAT! WHAT?!”

Okay, first of all, take a deep breath. I’m pretty sure that you’ve accomplished way more than you’ve imagined, even if your achievements were not exactly on your list of writing goals. Um…you do still have your goals, right? (I’ll give you a few minutes to find that list…)

Got it? Good. Now set it aside. The thing is, we often focus too much on our failures rather than examining the whole picture, and end up feeling just awful. So instead, let’s go off list and focus on all the aspects of the year so far. Did you get in your steps every day, lose a few pounds? Or maybe you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one and watched as carefully laid plans drifted away. Did you have major renovations or make a move? Have you navigated new and challenging waters of employment? Maybe you finally got an agent, made a major sale! Whatever the ups and downs of your year, from the physical to the emotional to the spiritual, it’s impacted your writing goals for better or worse.

I'm not where I thought I'd be in October, but still, I feel pretty darn good. Despite all the comings and goings of a wedding, I’ve finished a major novel revision. Maybe five years ago, I would’ve accomplished much more, but I’m weighing my achievements against this year only. That's what matters for me, and it’s what matters for you as well. So now, let’s look forward. We have three months left and that's plenty of time to make a plan.

First, prioritize. Do you want to do National Novel Writing Month? Then now is the time to do your prep. And give some thought about what you want to accomplish with Nano; you don’t have to write a novel, or get a certain word count. Make Nano your own, but it’s imperative to start the planning stages now. Bottom line is this: whatever is still on your writing list—Nano, a revision, a freelance project— that you desperately want to finish by the end of the year, focus on that goal.

Because the second step is all about that ticking clock: be realistic about what you can accomplish. Once we hit the holidays, with costumes to make and kids home from school, and family visiting, and baking and cooking and…well, honestly, I’m already wore out. You only have so much time here in the home stretch so make it count with whatever writing project(s) you choose to tackle.

And the third step, because I’m all about the Rule of Three, is celebrate what you’ve accomplished so far. Pick up that warm beverage and put your feet up for a few minutes. Congrats to you on whatever you’ve achieved and good luck on what’s to come.

And one more thing. Feel free to dump all those leaves back in your neighbor’s yard. (That’s what I’m fixin’ to do.)

~Cathy C. Hall


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Cathy, I love this post! It's an excellent reminder. I was totally feeling NaNo and End of the Year panic the other day, but I feel better now. Thank you! :)

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I seem to feel this panic every October. Maybe it's the fall that brings about introspection and the feeling that it's time to get serious.

Great post. Thanks, Cathy.

Marcia Peterson said...

I relate to the angst! Your positive spin was really helpful though. At least October is a long month without too many holidays going on (at least for me).

Have a great month everyone!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--A major novel revision? I am definitely intrigued. (Please don't tell me it's a romance. I can only read you-know-who's romance novels. ;)

Yes, comparing my progress to only last year is a wonderful idea.

Oh, I'm supposed to make a list? I'll go and do that right now.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh! I'm glad y'all enjoyed this one! I seem to always have that initial moment of panic in October. But then I get a grip and usually get something done before the end of the year. :-)

Which, by the way, helps me start the next year in a more positive place.

And Sioux, no, it's not a romance. I can't write the mushy stuff. But I'll send the ms after I make a few edits; you might have some great feedback for me! (It's madcap mystery MG.)

Linda O'Connell said...

Great reminders that although time is ticking, we can always make time for writing. I look at my writing submissions calendar and feel blue, then by month's end, I get in gear and submit. You are always an inspiration. I would be glad to look at your work in progress!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

No fallen leaves for me this year...I'll cry over it at the beach. :) (Red tide has been gone on our beaches all week! Yay! Hope it's a permanent thing.) You've made some wonderful points here, things I need to remember and employ. Thanks for another great---as usual---post.

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