Pre-NaNo Freak-Out Day

A few days remain until the frenzy which is NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t already (and in some cases even if you have) this is about the time for your Pre-NaNo Freak-Out Day. Now, our heroine could just slap you and say, “Snap out of it, dear Reader!” Perhaps that would even work with some of you. (You know who you are.) I prefer to take a kinder, gentler approach to it. Unless you’re shrieking, running in circles and flapping your hands. Then I smack and/or shoot with tranq gun. Have some pride, you’re a wrimo!

Right. Pre-NaNo Freak-Out Day. The gravitas of the challenge sinks in. Your eyes widen. Perhaps your hands shake and as you gulp, you can feel your heart pounding. Acronyms flash before your eyes: OMG, WTF, FFS and others I don’t plan to spell out. I’m here to tell you that no, you are not crazy for taking on NaNo. Deep breath and relax. Hey, go to your “happy place” if it helps.

The first step to getting past the Freak-Out is to distract yourself productively in some way which has nothing to do with NaNo. Yes, life goes on even during NaNo. Take a walk with the kids, play with the dog, make some soup or gooey chocolate brownies (and send me some, please), work on the classic car in the garage. Focus on doing whatever it is you choose by enjoying every drop of it. When Freak-Out approaches, push it away in your thoughts. “I’m doing this now.”

Peace achieved, there’s probably still a part of your mind doing the Acronym Dance. Nothing wrong with that. NaNo can be a challenge, especially if you’re new to doing it. Perhaps after you calm down a bit, you might consider approaching it sideways. What does your writing space look like? Straighten it, water the wilting plant, maybe even take the Q-Tips to the keyboard. Trust me, it won’t stay that way long, but a clean space sure is a nice way to begin NaNo. Other thoughts: Get any meds and supplements you take organized, perhaps even in a weekly pill holder. Set a computer alarm (I use Windows Calendar for mine) for when you need to take them so you don’t lose track of time. Get ahead on the laundry, freeze a meal or two. These are NOT meant to be drudgery. Rather, they are gifts you give yourself to ease into NaNo smoothly. Sort of sidling up to it.

Now we address the Freak-Out. Sure, there are the out-of-control bits. The Acronym Dance I mentioned earlier pretty well covers it. Let’s look at specific issues.

  • “Have I done enough prep work?” — Does it matter? You’ve done all you’re getting done. It’s also not ridiculous to spend the first day or three continuing your prep. Just think: it may save you three days of further freaking out during the month.
  • “Should I have done prep work?” — Aha, a pantser. Well, I’ve done NaNo as a pantser and hit the 50k. I’ve done it with a loose outline and won as well. Go with your strengths. (Although putting together a few notes, including character names, can save you from having to look back through what you’ve written for “Oh, what was his name again?”)
  • “What was I thinking?” That’s awfully close to out-of-control Acronym Dancing, but a fair question. You were thinking it would be fun to try. You were recognizing that there’s no prize to be won other than your own satisfaction. You were caught up in the NaNo tide of energy. These are all Good Things. Try to remember them. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you as well.

There are plenty more. What’s your biggest Freak-Out? I’m no expert and I don’t have all the answers. If you let me know what’s bothering you, I promise to take the time to make up an answer if I don’t know it.

Most importantly, know that there are a whole lot of people out there who are celebrating Pre-NaNo Freak-Out Day along with you. It’s okay. You’re allowed – even expected – to freak. It’s like stage fright. I never did a show well unless I had stage fright first.

Right. Deep breath. It’ll pass.


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8 thoughts on “Pre-NaNo Freak-Out Day

  1. Tony Noland October 28, 2010 at 11:58 am Reply

    Yep, it’s a freak-out day. I’ve done some planning, perhaps not enough, perhaps too much. My biggest freak out is being sure that I can take this idea through 50K.

    Time to clean my desk & writing space…


    • Jessica Rosen October 28, 2010 at 6:11 pm Reply

      Just a thought: if the project you have in mind falls short of 50k, you can always start a new project or add new shorts/flashes. With the NaNo Rebels categorization, pretty much anything goes so long as it’s new words.

      I’m cleaning my desk and space this evening, too. Good on you.

      Take care,


  2. Johanna Harness October 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm Reply

    Whoohoo! The acronym dance. Well, now that I know what it is, I’ll settle in. Eventually.


    • Jessica Rosen October 28, 2010 at 6:13 pm Reply

      The Acronym Dance! “It’s just a jump to the OMG, and then a step to the WTF…” Don’t settle in completely – it’s too much fun to surf the edge of manic energy NaNo can bring.

      Take care,


  3. Penrefe October 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm Reply

    Strange that I’ve been freaking out about it all day today, considering I’ve been relatively mellow about it right up until now; must be something in the air!


    • Jessica Rosen October 28, 2010 at 6:16 pm Reply

      It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it? Keeping perspective is the key. If one is not doing any good because one is stressed… time to do something else. Hope your freak-out settles down quickly.

      Take care,


  4. Anna October 29, 2010 at 1:13 am Reply

    I’ve been freaking out too! Last year I wrote a novel I’ve been outlining and attempting for years! I knew my characters and world so well. This year, I’m going with something I just came up with about 2 weeks ago. :/ I have a half a page of random plot details!! Compare that to years of world-building! Eep! And I can’t stop abusing exclamation marks!


    • Jessica Rosen October 29, 2010 at 4:23 am Reply

      Just think how exciting it’s going to be, building the world as you go. You already know it’s doable. Strap in and enjoy the ride! One suggestion: keep either a notebook and pen OR a blank document handy. You can keep notes of world building items as you go. You don’t want to go back and “fix” things to reflect the new world building. That’s for the rewrites. Having those notes will be helpful both for the rewrites and calming your Inner Editor while you race through NaNo. Keep in touch – I’m JessicaRosen on the NaNo site.

      Take care,


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