Now that you’re settled into a routine of some sort involving your writing, I want you to look ahead. Take a look at your calendar and run through what you have scheduled in the next few weeks. Yup. Thanksgiving is approaching. This could mean you will not be writing that day because you’re cooking the meal, or you’re getting up at 5am, putting the turkey in the oven, and using the extra hours when you could be sleeping to write more in your story.
Whether or not your Thanksgiving plans will impact your writing goals, I want you to use this time to think ahead. Yes, November will end and you will not need to write for a while. But I want you to pick a date in November as your vacation day.
On this day, you will not write. You can focus on your neglected chores, pets, and family. You can take time to watch the program you’ve been recording the past few weeks. You can remind yourself what December feels like.
Have you found a date that you want to spend off the computer? Good.
Now that you have a goal in mind, it is your job to get ahead. In order to use this date as your vacation, you must have an extra word cushion. This will enable you to not only enjoy your vacation, but not stress about your story. Okay, at least not stress about your story as you’re writing it. If you create one day’s quota worth of cushion, you can skip a day and come back the next time refreshed.
Breaks give you perspective. I have always taken at least one day off from my book during the month of November. My birthday is always around Thanksgiving, so I use one of those two days to relax and be with my family.
One year, my older brother came to visit for Thanksgiving. I wrote that morning. I was excited, because I was nearing the end of the story. But when he came, I finished my thought, saved the program, and put up my laptop. I did not write for the rest of the day.
For the record, when you’re that close to the end, it’s really hard to stop. But I did it because I wanted to spend time with my brother instead of enjoying the fact that he was in the room while simultaneously ignoring him. Looking back, I’m glad I stopped. I thought I would finish that day. I didn’t. I had about another three chapters to go. I would have spent all day obsessing about nearing the end instead of enjoying the holiday with my family.
Keep Your Vacation in Mind
When you’re getting frustrated with your story and its lack of progress, look back at the calendar. You don’t have to wait until December to lay the story aside. Your vacation is coming up. But in order to enjoy it, you have to keep writing. Give yourself other things you can do on your vacation day if you reach this amount of words by a certain date or time. See what happens.
Giving yourself challenges and then rewarding yourself for meeting them is very satisfying. That is part of the reason the NaNoWriMo challenge works so well.