Nancy: NaNoWriMo: Midset Break Edition

High-Intensity Workout

In the workout/weight training/athletics world, there is a concept called the midset break. To understand what that is, you first need to know the definition of a set, which is doing the same exercise for a defined number of times, or repetitions (reps for short). From that, you can probably decipher that a midset break is, in fact, a break you take in the middle of a set.

So let’s say I’m doing a set of bicep curls with a 20-lb weight, and for that set, I plan to do 15 reps, so I’m going to curl that weight 15 times. But around curl number 8 or 10 or 12, my arm is hurting, my muscles are burning, and if I push it to 15, my form is likely to suffer and I’ll do something stupid like hurt myself.

At this point, I have some options. I can push through to 15 and stock up on ibuprofen and Icy Hot (or so I hear – not that I’ve actually stupidly hurt myself during workouts. Ahem.) I can end the set and move onto another exercise. If I’m really discouraged, I can head for the shower. Or I can take a midset break – that is, stop in a comfortable position, take some deep breaths, ‘get my mind right’ as P90X creator Tony Horton would say, and THEN finish the last 3 curls in my set.

A midset break in a workout might save you from straining a muscle (or ten). A midset break in NaNo could save you from breaking your brain. I know, I know, this is going to get me into trouble with the NaNo purists. But have I mentioned (I know I’ve mentioned!) that I’m a rebel? I’ve already copped to working on two separate manuscripts and aggregating the word count. Now I’m adding to my true confessions – I worked like a fiend for the first 10 days, got close to 23k words, and have not added to my countable word count since then. That’s right, I was on a 2300-word-a-day pace for 10 days, and then zilch, zero, nada. What am I thinking?! That’s NaNo blasphemy – after all, isn’t the point to write every day, or as close to it as possible?! Surely this way lies failure!

Except…I planned it this way. I knew working 10 days straight, no days off, at that pace was a lot for me – not necessarily for you or your mother or that weird co-worker writing alien erotica in the next cubicle, but a lot for me. So I planned a midset break, wherein I would take stock of my historical romance novella-turned novel-turned back to novella (aka one of my two manuscripts). I took deep breaths, focused on the conflict box and turning points, and got my mind right regarding the 3-act (egads! only 3 acts!) structure.

So now, for the rest of the month, it’s time to get back to my set. With just over 27k words to write and 14 days to do it, I’m looking at pace of 1940 words a day. I’m rested. I’m breathing. I’m focused. My mind is as right as it’s going to get, and (in language any P90Xers out there will recognize) it’s time to Bring It! So who’s with me? What’s your personal writing goal (NaNo or otherwise) right now, and what’s your plan to achieve it?

7 thoughts on “Nancy: NaNoWriMo: Midset Break Edition

  1. (-: I’m so happy to find someone with the same problem: there are rules, it’s good to follow the rules, but these exact rules are not helping. I always angst a little bit about breaking rules. But with NaNo, the rules serve us — we don’t get stuck in jail for breaking the rules.

    I’m feeling pretty good about NaNo, even though I’m not keeping with the program exactly. Despite my very low word count, I could still finish on January 16 if I keep up this pace. January 16!! My Editor in the Attic was yelling, “You’ll never finish if you don’t pick up the pace!” Well, guess what, Editor. You are wrong. January 16 is practically around the corner. All I have to do is keep to this same slow and steady.

    I’m learning so much this NaNo, and I think I’m going to be able to sustain a story past November 28th this time. (For some reason, I always peter out around the 25th. The story is done, even if it doesn’t have the words.) I think it’s because I’m cross-training (to stick with the workout metaphor), writing the juicy parts in outline, and going back to the juicy parts and filling them out as I’ve got more stuff from research.

    • It sounds like you are really enjoying your project, too, and that’s important to keep the energy going. January 16 – woot woot!

  2. *You* might be rested, Nancy, but I’m exhausted just reading about it! Whatever works for you, that’s all I can say. I haven’t touched my manuscript in weeks. But I have an end in sight. And after that, it’s all go. The first draft is finished, so I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off in the first revision.

    • But as I recall, you were working on revising/updating another book, so it sounds like you are joining Michaeline in cross-training :-).

  3. I think this is why I skip around. I can write like the devil for several days, then I need to do something else, like edit or plot or research. (Ironically, I’ve been editing like mad for the last 10 days or so, and today is a writing day for me…switching it up again!)

    Kudos to you for knowing you needed this break. I don’t think I’ve ever consciously acknowledged that I need to switch gears, but after reading this post, I’ll definitely be more mindful of it.

  4. I’m not always particularly self-aware about these things. Realizing I was going to need this break (from working on word count) was the result of laying out my schedule and seeing that I just wasn’t going to have time to do more plotting/outlining on the historical before November. And since I am a consummate overplanner/plotter, I knew when the outline/plot notes dried up, so would my new word count.

    I have today’s writing time scheduled for this evening (not the best time for me, but other duties call), so I have high hopes that I can post a new NaNo word count by midnight tonight!

    • My mid-set break is lasting a couple of months, so I’m super impressed with this Nancy. (And everyone else doing Nano this year)

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