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?