I’ve done NaNoWriMo before. I gritted my teeth and fought my way through the hazardous jungle called “doing-important-school-project-while-winning-nanowrimo-and-working-with-christmas-trees-the-entire-weekend”.
I thought I knew what crazy-busy meant back when I woke up at 06:30 to be at my school by 08:00, left school at 15:15 and was home by 16:00 to study and prepare my project until 18:00 when I’d eat and then crank in two hours before, finally, getting 1667 words of writing done.
I thought it’d be easy when I designated all my time to do it.
I’m a reputably responsible person. I dedicated this year to writing so damn it did I mean to write.
50.000 words wasn’t enough of a goal for me. I meant to FINISH the book. A FANTASY book.
In the end I did 124.000 words by the 29th of November. I hit 11.000 words on my best day. The last day I wrote 5100 words in 3,5 hours.
It was an insane pace. Here are the things that NaNoWriMo taught me about stress.
1) Focusia Concentritia
You thought you could make a schedule? That you could just plan to write from now till then? That you could grab a relaxy-snack and then go back?
Who raised you to be so naïve?
Writing is creative. The mind submerges into the story and the world. There’s not much left brain activity and so you’re caught in a web of right-brainitis.
You can’t just stop. After the eight hours are over, you shut off the computer and pick up a book?
You’re still thinking about it. It’s the last thing before you go to bed and the first thing when you wake.
I have no doubt that this goes for any stressful job that requires an extensive use of intellect.
Let’s compare my dad and a man who drives a truck between warehouses and stores. My father has his own company and constantly has to take decisions and be creative in his thinking. When he comes home he cannot talk about anything but the office.
The truck driver, however? Sure, it’s stressful to drive the truck but when it’s parked it’s parked. When you’re off duty you’re OFF DUTY.
2) Pressura Non-Understooda Pisseda
So you’ve dedicated the next 30 days to writing? You plan on spending 8-10 hours each day on this? You’re not going to sit and do nothing. You’ll actually work till your head hurts.
And then someone says something like “well, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not that important. It’s just writing. How can you spend so much time writing?”
If you write you know the drill. “GET A REAL JOB!”
It is a real job! Does the innovative computer scientist with an idea for an entirely new program get paid before the program is out?
If anybody talk to you this way you’re allowed to delete them from your friend list – at least till your project is over and you can think rationally again.
3) Meschedule Hyperventilatus
Self-explanatory. You planned this. Something happens to mess it up.
You know you’re stressed when having to go buy groceries makes you start hyperventilating.
By the end of November I faced a new job, which came out of nowhere, which I hadn’t planned but had to take to help out my father. This moved up my deadline.
One night I woke up unable to breathe. I had to take insanely deep breathes as if I’d been out running to get even a bit of oxygen and ended up lying there for an hour. Not what you need when on a deadline.
Yeah … I’m ashamed to admit I suffered from this one. Sorry mom and dad. (In the future please respect my work hours.)
5) The Quantum Quadribling of Energy Output
The dish washer is done and needs to be emptied. You also have to vacuum clean your room. Put on pants while you’re at it.
Everything suddenly requires four times its usual amount of energy to do. Wait till next turn to draw another energy card.
Becoming slightly delusional also belongs on the list.
You’re already using all your energy on writing a god damn masterpiece. Keep pouring honey into your tea. Forget diabetes. It’s a myth.
When working on a project I prefer to do it fully. Screw the breaks.
Just remember to truly relax once you’re finished.
Yesterday was my rest day upon creating a world in 29 days.
I slept till late, got up, slugged into the living room and lay on the couch watching Archer till my back hurt. After a short walk I watched Winter’s Bone, read The Horror at Red Hook and then watched some Orange is the new Black.
Because now comes the next project
Have you ever worked on a project that sucked out all energy and time? How did people react to you? Did you seclude yourself or manage to see people now and then? Did you also never think I’d make a “so many things” list?