Mid-Month Slump: The writer as protagonist

Inevitably there is a point within every writing journey where the author experiences a slump – a weakening of the resolve, a host of new challenges and a desperate need for sleep! This is especially true in November when you are attempting to write 50,000 words in one month, even more so when your actual goal was to try and complete the story in the 30 days of November and you are less than a fifth of the way through but over 50% of the word target.

This week is the make-or-break point for me. Not because I can not write 50,000 words in a month – I proved I can do that last year – not even because I can not finish writing a novel – I managed that less than a month ago – but because I am so very tired and all my energy this week needs to be funnelled into things that are ‘not writing’.

We all have days, weeks, even months like this. As a writer I have come to expect them. As much as I would love to live the idealistic dream of writing everyday and feeling a glow of achievement whenever I can spend my hours tapping out some new scenes in my current story…that is too far away from the truth to be expected. There are going to be days when I have to work, walk the dog, do the laundry, make phone calls to insurance companies, take the dog to the vet, go shopping and still somehow make decent conversation with my partner. On days like this little, if any, writing will get done.

Equally though, there are days which can be surrendered to writing. Days when I can easily write between 2,500 and 4,000 words and still feel I’ve enjoyed the walks with the dog and a lunch-time treat of my favourite TV show followed by a writing-free evening spent with my lovely fiancé. These days just happened to take place last week – when I built up a decent lead in the fight to write 50,000 words this month and realised my story was going to take up a lot more space than I had initially envisioned.

This week will be filled with other responsibilities: work, rest and housework…actually mostly work. I am lucky enough to enjoy my ‘day-job’, but at the moment I certainly don’t prefer it to writing. Writing I can do on my own terms, set my own targets and do whenever I best see fit. No so with my ‘day job’. So this week is a bit manic. I don’t feel able to concentrate on NaNoWriMo, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up. This is just how it is with writing – same as any other profession. Some days/weeks/months are better than others.

It is the fate of every protagonist to struggle against the many challenges we, as authors, throw at them. It is the fate of every writer to struggle against the responsibilities that make up the life we live and create a story worth reading, a story that mimics the challenges of every day life – a story that is believable in the struggles we create. How else are we expected to ensure our protagonist survives these quests if we can not relate to the fight they have had to face? 

This is our story – the writer’s struggle to write, to find time to write, to put words on the page and still maintain a life of our own. This is what we write about. By overcoming our own struggles we are better able to help our characters face their own. So I’ve decided not to think of this as a sign I should give up, or put it to one side or shy away from my writing. I’ve decided to forge on ahead as best I can – it’s the least I can do to prove to my protagonist it’s worth the trouble.


2 responses to “Mid-Month Slump: The writer as protagonist

  1. Ack. I hate those times too, Cat. You just keep hacking at what you love to do and you should be fine. Also, cut yourself a little slack. You are really kicking it this month with the word count. Don’t forget that!

    • Thanks Dan. Had a tough week this week, so am hoping to get back into it from today onward. And you’re right – mustn’t forget to focus on the positives: even though I’ve hardly written for four days, I’m still ahead on the target. 8o)
      Hope you’re back into the Gideon Plan with gusto…no matter how big the project as long as you have some passion for it you can make it work.
      Take Care

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