There's a lot of division among writers whether it's being a panster or a plotter to whether or not to participate in NaNoWriMo.
I'm a supporter of NaNoWriMo. I love the shared community. I love knowing that other people are suffering just as I am. Er, that doesn't sound very nice. Sorry. I meant to say that writing is a very solitary activity. During the month of NaNo, I see dozens of posts on my social media every day by other writers sharing their joys at achieving their daily word count or sharing their woes at getting stuck on a scene or a stubborn character.
What it comes down to is this: I am not alone.
But what stops you from NaNo-ing?
I've done my best to participate every year, but I admit I'm not exactly successful every year. Some years I barely made it half-way to the 50k word count goal. I don't like to say I gave up, but I did have to postpone my novel writing for a while. And sometimes there are several reasons for this.
Work: Having a full-time job is a difficult challenge for a person wanting to make a career out of writing, or for that person who just wants to commit a month for this personal challenge. Unfortunately, you can't call in sick to your day job just so you can stay home and write the day away. Nor can you call in sick because you spent the entire night writing instead of getting the sleep that you need. You have commitments to your day job, especially if that's what pays the bills. I remember that was a great struggle for me when I was working at my job as Assistant Manager at Waldenbooks.
Solution: I can only offer tips that worked for me. I'm sure there are lots of different ways to tackle this obstacle. There were three different times I found that I could squeeze in some writing. If I woke early in the morning, I could get an hour or so of writing time in. If I was too lazy or too tired to wake early (I am not a morning person!), I'd take my notebook to work and I'd write during my lunch break. I'd only get a half-hour of writing, but I might be able to squeeze in 300-500 words. Maybe more if I wrote fast. And if my co-workers decided on that day to interrupt my lunch break with help on the sales floor (and that did happen frequently), then I'd leave my writing for night. Typically (before I had kids) my favorite time to write was at night anyway. I could easily get a good 2 hours of writing time every night.
“What do you want? What are you willing to give up to get it? Writing requires you make sacrifices. Be prepared to work hard to be a writer.”~Sandra Brown
Family: Family members can either be the best supporters of a writer or the worst obstacles. My family is both. My husband encourages me to write. However, he hates the month of November because of NaNo. He's become my arch nemesis when it comes to participating in this challenge. Apparently during the past years, I become very emotional about failing to meet my daily word count goals. I'm sure I've given a thousand excuses for not being able to write for some reason or other (I am creative with my excuses) and he just got tired of hearing about how I couldn't do it. And he's of the opinion that when you write, you should do your best on the first draft so you don't have more work to do later rather than writing crap just to have words on the page that you can edit later. But, he's not a writer, so what does he know anyway? Right?
Solution: Don't bother talking to family about NaNo. If they aren't writers, they won't understand the compulsion to get words on paper to complete this challenge. Instead, chat with other writers about any woes or joys you're feeling about your novel. There are tons of other writers out there going through the exact same things you're going through. Sometimes they can help motivate you better than your loved ones.
“All writers have this vague hope that the elves will come in the night and finish any stories.”~Neil Gaiman
Solution: If you have the resources, whether its family, friends or paid services, getting a babysitter for a few hours of writing time is well-deserved. If not, (and I join those ranks!) writing early in the morning before they wake or late at night after they go to sleep is another option. Writing during the day has nearly vanished for me. I used to get in some writing during naptimes. Occasionally, if I see they are immersed in play I might be able to quietly open my laptop without them noticing. It never seems to last long. But remember, these times will change as children grow older. I hear many of my writer friends talk about the hours of free writing time they have now that they're children are teenagers. It won't be long before my kids are grown. I'm happy to keep my writing at morning or night and enjoy my kids during the day. They grow too fast anyway.
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed."~Ernest Hemingway
Self-Doubt: This is the worst! The absolute hands-down worst! I can handle any obstacles a job, family and children can throw my way but when it comes to my own brain I sometimes come out as a pile of poo on the floor. Writers are their own worst critics. No one can criticize my writing like me! And that is the number one thing that stops me from completing NaNo. I'll start out on a buzz thinking my new novel is going to be the greatest thing I ever wrote and usually after the first week I start wondering who would ever want to read this crap!
Solution: I know its tough, but you have to turn off your internal editor! Its hard for me, too! Usually, I like to go back to yesterday's writing to get back into the scene and that's when I notice the inevitable grammar or spelling errors that I cringe at. I'll try to fix a few, but if I don't stop myself, I'll soon be editing the whole piece instead of moving forward to write more words. And I do my best to not to wonder about what readers will think about my work. That just stops me in my tracks! My mind goes completely blank with fear and I have no words left. So when I NaNo, I'm writing only for my own enjoyment. I'm not thinking about readers or sales. I'm not thinking if I can manage to pay any bills with the end result of this month's efforts. I'm thinking only of having fun while I write. That's the only way I can finish.
"This is how you do it: You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It's that easy, and that hard." --Neil Gaiman