BONUS: All About Burnout!

Are you getting burned out on your novel already? It's not even the end of the month yet, and you're sick of the language, sick of the details, sick of your socio-political climates?

Here's how you know you're burned out:

  • You avoid your notes, put it off until later. You've contemplated burying the notebook in the backyard, but fear the dog might dig it up and return it to you.
  • You skip past the exercises and think you'll get to them later, but you never do.
  • You've started to rebel in little ways, and now your novel has pastel vampires in it after all.
  • You can't think of doing anything but world-build between now and November 1st.
  • You dream in your invented language.

Stop. You're going to drive yourself crazy. Seriously-- you want NaNoWriMo to be FUN. It is time to step back and get some perspective. Take a deep breath. Remember that you are creating a draft. If you spend all of October painstakingly building a world that is perfect in every detail, then you will be paralyzed on November 3rd when you've explored your plot and don't know where to go next. You must leave yourself some leeway to be creative in November! The purpose of the World Building exercises is to give you a setting, not a straightjacket.

In the Dos and Don'ts thread, the very good point is made that NaNoWriMo is about the process, not the product. If you have stopped enjoying the process of world-building, then you are done. Your product is complete. Set it aside for this entire last week-- you won't miss anything, I promise. This last week will be focused on filling in the little gaps, filling out whatever you might have, and revising your notes if you need to. You won't miss a thing if you've already spent 2 hours for every "15-minute" exercise this month.

I'm going to repeat a couple of things I've said in other threads here, so bear with me if you've heard it already.

You will not get it "right" until you get it "write." Which is to say: there is no world-building exercise that can replace actually writing in your world.

You want a world that you can use for future writing projects? Great. Make sure you have the basics down. It's okay if you don't have a lot of depth yet, if you only know the surface ideas behind your political groups, or have no idea what the capitol city is called. When you're done with the novel, you will have added about 1/3 to your world-building without even trying. Then you can go back, fix any inconsistencies in your world and your story, add any depth that it turns out you needed after all, and consider it "right."

When you make up a new world-related detail, make a note in your World Building notes so you know later what the rule is. On November 25th, you don't want to be looking for the thing your wrote on November 4th, where you said what kind of government your people came from "back home," and which has only been relevant twice in your novel. If you forget to make a note, or you don't realize until later that it was important, you can throw in a placeholder and fix it later. Last year, I had one character leave the planet in one scene, and then re-appear with no explanation 5 pages later; I fixed it in April.

The key with world building is to stop before you get sick of your world. If you find yourself thinking "I don't need any of this-- this sucks," then put it away NOW and don't open your world-building notes until October 31st, when you read through them at 11 PM, getting ready to start writing at midnight. Go plan the rest of your story (plot and character), because your setting is as done as it needs to be.

If you're sick of it, you're ready. The details will fall into place when you write the book.