NaNoWriMo Report: Week 2 – Why People Procrastinate

How are you doing with NaNoWriMo?

I am doing both fabulously well and horribly. While my plan of 'going with the flow' has worked in my favor for the most part...  There were days I let the characters take the story wherever they wanted and "writer's block" would happen. This made me procrastinate on writing and for two of the days I was short 400-900 words. This may seem like a small number to some, but two days of missing word counts really do add up.

Perfect_Prose on twitter gave me an excellent idea for my 'go with the flow' process I was using for my NaNoWriMo journey. She suggested that I quickly jot down the different paths I felt the story was going to take. This way when doing a word sprint, I still had defined path to go for my sprint. This mixture of serendipity and organization pleased me greatly and I gave it a shot... And it kinda worked. I was able to burst past my indecisive writer's block and move on forward like nothing ever happened.

My Progress for NaNoWriMo

I'm on Day 16 as I'm writing this and I'm currently at 21,610 words. While personally this is an achievement for myself since usually I throw in the towel by this point, I am still behind the 26,666 word count that NaNoWriMo wants me to be. Which you know, is fine. If you look at the #NaNoWriMo on Twitter, you'll see a lot of people having the same kind of issues of falling behind. However they, like myself, have not given up yet.

Now as to why I am behind... There are several factors that come into play. While the usual excuses of work and personal obligations are true when it comes to lacking time to write, I also was at fault for procrastinating. On my first week, I mentioned that I did a lot of my writing during my commute to and from the city. This was something that I failed to do this past week. Instead I was on YouTube watching Let's Plays of Doki Doki Literature Club and other videos that essentially acted like a black hole, sucking up my time. Whenever the train or subway was underground, I would read fan-made stories that were preloaded into my phone.

Why Procrastinate?

When I started NaNoWriMo, I made a commitment to myself (and the world) that I would write 50,000 words in a month. I told the majority of my writing friends, announced it on twitter, and even shared my personal challenge with my co-workers. To lessen the chances of giving up I made sure to make myself accountable. I say this to give you guys an idea of how dedicated and passionate I am about accomplishing this goal.

Why take time away from writing when I can be making small but noticeable steps towards my goal? Some of these reasons you may sympathize with and others you may roll your eyes at.

Pressure from NaNoWriMo

On NaNoWriMo's website, you can visually see how you are doing compared to how you should be doing. This graph, while useful to make sure you are on track, can be stressful to look at if you miss a day. When you miss multiple days, you'll notice that your word count is very far from where it needs to be. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with this graph. I always refer to it to visually see my progress, but this week seeing it has given me more stress than it has relief.

Due to telling multiple people about my goal, I have felt a lot of pressure from that end as well. I'm being held accountable for reaching my word count by the end of November. While no one I have told has pestered me about it, the fact that I told others makes me put pressure on myself. I want to be able to tell everyone that I did it.

NaNoWriMo Problem #1: Creating the "Perfect" Tale

I have admitted in the past that I do have perfectionist tendencies. I tend to hold myself at a higher standard than I hold anyone else and usually this words in my favor. It gives me the motivation to push myself harder when I notice others are lacking and I get compliments for how organized and productive I am. On the "flip-side", this applies to everything I do.

This year for NaNoWriMo, I purposely didn't use a timeline or do a lot of pre-production... However as I'm writing more and more, I'm falling more in love with the characters and story that I have been making on the fly. If you were to ask me what I plan to do next chapter, I'll shrug and be like "whatever I want"... However at 20k words in, I want my story that I have been working on to be perfect. I do not want it to feel like it is a story I have been randomly making up as I go.

It is because of this I have been able to convince myself to watch YouTube videos or do basically anything else under the sun instead of write. The pressure to keep the story 'fresh' and 'awesome' has been really piling down on me. I want to make sure that my entire story is great, not just the beginning.

NaNoWriMo Problem #2: Writing Outside My Genre

Adventure is a genre I am familiar with writing. During my university days I wrote several short-stories of a traveling duo of a morphing creature and a starfish. It was a fun and interesting series that occasionally became interactive in the form of roleplaying on the website gaiaonline. These short stories were prompts by 'missions' posted in forums. Moderators in the community would then read these prompts and judge whether your team failed or succeeded.

I was known for my creativity and light-hearted humor as I wove tales of adventure. I became so active within the community that I had become a moderator. It was a great time of my life and I throughly enjoyed every moment of it.

Mystery is a whole other story.

Mystery requires planning and foreshadowing. It relies heavily on creating puzzles and then presenting them in a way where a clever reader could figure out the solution. However the solution needs to remain shrouded in mystery. This planning aspect was something I didn't want to do. But that was what I settled on.

However this has lead me to moments where while writing, I hit a wall. I would second-guess what I write and admittedly smash the backspace so I could write and rewrite sentences. Something that I shouldn't be doing during NaNoWriMo, that's what December is for, editing. Lots and lots of editing.

When there's uncertainty, this can ruin the 'flow' of your writing or anything you are doing. This is a reason why you may suddenly halt on a project. When this happens you need to find clarity. This will help you forward at the pace you were going in the first place. Otherwise you'll slow down until you are suddenly stumped and not doing anything at all.

What's Your Procrastination Tale?

Even if you are not participating in NaNoWriMo, have you been procrastinating? If so you should comment below or  tweet at me.

I would love hearing others who are on the same boat as myself. If you have solutions to cure procrastination or perhaps a different reason to procrastinate, please let me know!