We’ve nearly reached the midpoint of NaNoWriMo. As of the end of today, the minimum word count to be on track is 20,000. In only three more days, on the 15th, it’ll be 25,000. By this time, as I am every year, I’m already past 50,000. Some years, I stop and do something else for a while. Others, like now, I continue on because I need at least one completed first draft out of NaNo, and 50k doesn’t cut it.
For many WriMos, this is the hard part. The majority of people who embark upon the challenge won’t finish. By this time, anyone who isn’t going to finish probably knows it. You’re behind on the word count and can’t see any way out of the hole. Or the story you’ve managed to throw down so far makes too little sense or has too low a quality and you see it as pointless to continue. At the midpoint, if you don’t know what to do because the story makes no sense, it’s very difficult to recover and soldier on.
Beat the odds!
Suggestions for the despairing WriMo:
- Stop stressing over it. Winning NaNo isn’t the most awesome thing you can do with your life and losing isn’t the result of a moral failing.
- Breathe. Step back. Think about what makes sense for the story next. If nothing does, my region would like to suggest that you try adding a sarcastic ninja cat drunk on schnapps in a barn who punches someone in the face. It may be the cat, the schnapps, or the barn who does the punching. Your choice. We came up with that as part of a group activity.
- Treat yourself to something, whether it’s a movie, chocolate covered bacon, a walk in the park, or whatever. Take some time out to be a person instead of a mad lunatic fixated on words, numbers, and deadlines.
- Change your goal. 50k in 30 days is most assuredly not for everyone. Maybe you’d be better off with a goal of 500 words per day, or 5000 words per week, or 100 words per hour, or ten 5 minute bursts of furious writing every day.
- Find a fellow human being. Ask them a leading question (one that requires more than a single word or short phrase to answer). Listen. Consider their input and find a way to incorporate it into your story. I recommend making a serious attempt to include the aforementioned sarcastic ninja cat in your question.
- When all else fails, stop. Think about your story and start preparing for next year when you crush that 50k goal into the ground under your literary boot heel of doom.
Lee French has published several fantasy and science fiction novels and is a member of Edgewise Words Inn staff. She is also a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo.