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Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo - 1/3 of the Way There

How many of you out there are doing NaNoWriMo this year? Raise your hands.

I'm doing it. But I'm cheating. The rule is that you're supposed to start on a new WIP and write 50,000 words. Well, I don't have time to set aside my current WIP, but I still need to get in 50,000 words...so I'm breaking the rule and using the manuscript I already had in progress.

I'm only counting new words, though. :)

So...if you're participating in NaNo, you should be about 1/3 of the way done with your 50,000 words at this point. Are you? I'm close, but not quite at that mark. Darn the early part of the month being filled with birthdays in my family. It doesn't get any easier in the later part of the month, either--that is Thanksgiving, which means lots of family functions.

Still, I'm finding a way to get my words in.

At this point in the game, though, those who are new to NaNo might be feeling stuck or frustrated, or both. Here are some handy-dandy tips and tricks for getting yourself unstuck.

  • Don't try to sit down and write with the idea of "I have 41,209 words left to write. Augh!" Sit down and say to yourself, "I'm going to write for the next twenty minutes, and I want to write 300 words in that time." Three hundred words is a page. You can write a page in 20 minutes. Break it into easy chunks.
  • If a particular scene is giving you fits, skip it. Move ahead to a scene that you know exactly how it will play out. It might give you what you needed to write the earlier scene, but no matter what, at least you'll be writing. You don't have to write everything in order.
  • Can't figure out the best way to work out the details of a scene, talk it out with someone. Go to a Write-In with your local NaNo Region, call up a critique partner, talk to the guy on the train who stares blindly at you while you're talking to yourself, or if all else fails--talk to a pet or a stuffed animal. Sometimes, just saying it out loud helps you to work through your blocks.
  • Don't like your current NaNo project? Scrap it. That's right, toss it in the drawer and pull something else out. (Be sure to keep counting the words you wrote on the scrapped project, though.) No one says that this project is the one you have to write. Write what you want to write.
  • Try doing a word war with someone else. If you're on Twitter, look for the #1k1hr hashtag and you'll likely find people doing them. It's easier to get a bunch of words out if you know you'll get a break in a certain amount of time. I'm fond of doing 30 minute sprints sometimes, so you might find me using hashtag #500in30.
  • Remember that this is supposed to be fun. If it is stressing you out, maybe NaNo isn't right for you. Or maybe the project you're trying to write isn't the right thing for you. If you're not having fun, reevaluate why you're doing it in the first place.
  • Enable Freedom. Freedom is a cheap software program (for both Mac and PC) that will disable your ability to connect to the internet for a set period of time. You set the time. It's amazing how much work I can get done if I'm not checking my email every ten minutes, looking to see what the authors I stalk on Twitter have tweeted, and playing games on Facebook.
What other suggestions do you have for getting through the slog that is the middle part of NaNoWriMo?


  1. Good post. I am doing Nano and have around 30,000 words so far.

  2. Great advice, Catherine! I'm not doing it this year, but I hope to next year. :)

  3. I've never participated in Nano, but I am working on a project. In the past I've gotten stuck when I wasn't sure about a detail and I needed to research. When my focus is on word count only, I leave those places blank and mark it so I know to go back.

    Also, giving myself permission to be imperfect has helped. Once I have the framework in place, I know I'm capable of going back and making it better. Nothing says I have to get it right the first time.

    Lastly, thinking about what scene I'm going to write the next day as I drift off to sleep helps me prepare.

  4. That's great, Ella. You're ahead of me. :)

    Dana, I took last year off because of being in the midst of revisions. I'm glad to be back to it, even though I'm running behind.

    Samantha, NaNo taught me my trick of leaving XXX in place of something I couldn't come up with on the spot. That way, when I finish and have time to research, I can just do a search of my document for XXX, and then I will find and solve them all. I love your idea of giving permission to be imperfect. I might need to make use of that one today, actually, because I've been a little stuck.

  5. I've never done Nano, but when I'm trying to get a good chunk of writing done in a certain period of time, I set myself a goal of ten pages a day. Remember I said goal. If I don't make it, I try harder the next day. I've found this really works for me!

  6. Julie, that's a great point about it being a goal...that's the thing with Nano, too. It's just a means of reaching a goal, with smaller goals throughout. I met a new Nano participant a few days ago, and she was so caught up in all of the rules, and thought that her finished product had to be 50,000 words. No...that's just how much you need to write to "win." My finished product will be closer to 100,000 words, so it won't be finished at 50,000, even if I "win."

  7. I'm doing the same thing. I couldn't set aside my current WIP, but that doesn't mean you can't still do Nano (IMHO anyhow) Some of us can't afford to start from scratch.

    I'm sitting at about 1/4 done, but I hope to have a few days of crazy writing ahead.

    I took the challenge today and when my son woke up at 3:30, I stayed up and wrote until the kids woke up for the day. It's nap time now, so I'll get back to it in a minute.

    You have some great ideas there, though i'm not so sure talking to the guy who's staring at you on the train is such a great idea. ;)

    Great post,

  8. Oh wow, Robin. Writing since 3:30? I'd be a mess. LOL. Thanks for stopping by. And you're probably right about the guy staring on the train. Maybe just surreptitiously stare back at him, noting things about him, and write him into the story. LOL. Okay, or maybe not...

  9. Catherine,

    Thanks for the XXX tip. That's a great one!

  10. Here's another great blog post with tips for getting through. http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-to-keep-writing-when-honeymoon-is.html