We are halfway through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a international event whee thousands of writers try to pound out 50,000 words in 30 days. I know, we’re a bit crazy and we’re probably all going to need rehab for the amount of caffeine that we’ve consumed so far. Oops! But we’ve reached the halfway point and we’re all still hanging on despite some setbacks and writer’s block this week.
For many of us, if we haven’t already hit some road blocks within the past week we’re about to hit some as we struggle to up the tension in our stories and keep it interesting (*clears throat* If you’re a short story writer and you know exactly what I mean, please raise your hand. We are not alone and we will make it!). Some of us are only a few thousand in (Congratulations on getting started, it’s much more than most people do.), some of us are dancing around the halfway mark at about 25k, and a handful have already completed this challenge (How? O teach us your ways!).
Regardless of where we are all at, we need encouragement to put those pieces down or to continued writing through the slog. We’ve all either hit, are working through or have passed a point where we felt like 50k in a month is crazy and that we’re crazy and we should just give up now. Yes, we’re crazy (that’s a given) but keep writing because you never know what will pop up in the sentence or the next page. Even if you don’t finish the challenge this month, you have still begun an amazing story that holds its place in your life. You’ve passed a milestone and you’ve started something big.
Week Three has started now and with it I have a few words of wisdom from the past few weeks:
Keep writing, don’t give up.
This past week was particularly difficult for me to write through, in fact I didn’t even at all write on election day. Tensions were high and I was way too excited for the outcome, I couldn’t concentrate. After breaking my habit, it was hard to get back into the writing mood and after typing an average or 2,600 words a day, it was a bit deflating to only be able to write 600. But I kept writing because I was 600 words closer to my final goal. I would write maybe 20 words at a time and it was slow and painful but I got there. Now I’ve passed 25k and I’ll hit 30k sometimes today most likely.
Keep on writing, you’ll get there.
Don’t read what you wrote the night before.
I reread some of what I wrote this week and I had to squelch the urge to scrap it all and go back to the drawing board. My entire novel is pretty much a collection of scenes that I wrote in around midnight or in the wee hours of the morning when the house was silent and I was tired enough to let all of my thoughts free from their confines. I’m not entirely sure that any of it even makes sense at this point, but I will deal with that in January after I have had an ample period of rest of this entire mess.
There will be things that probably won’t make much sense but you can figure that out later when you re-outline and edit.
Resist the urge to over plot.
If your characters decide to take you on what seems like a wild goose chase give them the reigns for a little bit. No matter how much you plot or over plot your character still have a life of their own that they want to live. Sometimes you may find that the best scenes come from the spur of the moment directions that your characters decide to take.
My main character’s love interest turned out to have a girlfriend and he tried to blackmail her. While I didn’t understand it at first, it’s made my MC much more wary and unwilling to trust. She needed that harsh edge from betrayal that I wasn’t able to give her before.
My main character was supposed to be betrayed by her friends and while that did still happen, it took place after she had made a series of terrible mistakes that made them feel like she had betrayed them. The story was manipulated in such a way that it made the friendship ring breaking up so much more painful and tore my characters apart on the inside too.
The villain turned out to be my MCs ex boyfriend and a manipulative psychopathic bastard. His actions and their past have made it harder for my MC to resist him and do what she knows is right. My MC’s downfall is that she sees the good in people and ignores the bad and my villain knows this. She has to come with terms with the fact that maybe there is no good in him, so that she can save her city.
So many beautiful exciting plot points and subplots would have never brought the story, as terrible as it is right now, to life if I hadn’t had released the reigns occasionally and asked my characters what they really wanted. And if it doesn’t work out you can always take it out later, when you’re editing (It’ll add to your word count in the meantime.).
It’s ok for your story to be a load of crap.
It would probably take me a couple of years to count all of the times that I have used horrible descriptions because I couldn’t think of the words in the middle of a sprint or the amount of times I used the word ‘said’ or ‘sighed’ in a row. Maybe even longer. Don’t pause your sprint and start off on a wild goose chase for that stupid word, you’re wasting time when you could be writing more words.
If you did not research during NaNoWriMo Prep (I didn’t even have a plot idea until the day of NaNoWriMo.) don’t do it now. Wait until you’re done and you’ve probably gotten everything factually wrong and then do your research. Not only will you know what you actually need to know but you’ll also have more time to do better and more thorough research because you don’t have an enormous deadline hanging over your head.
The technology in my novel right now is probably woefully inaccurate but I keep writing because that is something that I can fix later. My descriptions of certain landmarks and such are also probably very inaccurate – even though my novel is set in a dystopian future after world war five- but I can deal with that later. Right now I need to focus on writing.
Treat yourself occasionally.
If you need some extra motivation then give yourself a treat of some sort whenever you reach some sort of milestone (especially helpful if you have writer’s block). Whenever you get a new badge, make yourself something yummy to eat or whenever you reach another 1k celebrate with a piece of chocolate. Of course my examples all have to do with food but if you have another love that could be motivational for you then go for it!
I’ve promised myself that when I reach 40k I’ll make myself a batch of fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies.
There are a few things that I can assure you of:
If you never start, you’ll never finish.
Your story is your own. Don’t fashion it after the bestselling novelists and other writer’s you love or admire. What makes you different from every other writer on this planet is that you have your own unique voice. Keep writing with it so that it can flourish.
When you read good books you are investing in your writing. If you don’t make time to read then you don’t have time to write.
Your and You’re have two completely different meanings.
There is no formula to writing well. What works for other will most likely not work for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Art is different by every hand.
Write for yourself first, don’t write for other people’s opinions. There will always be opinions and they may not be the ones that you want or need.
It’s time to let your crazy out, some things may be illegal in the real world but that doesn’t mean they are in the fictional universe.
There are no rules. Just write.
Good luck and God’s blessing in the coming week!
word count goal for this week: 35,000 words
actual word count: 28,639 words