Nanowrimo: Week Three Tips

Oh, November, I feel like you are messing with us.  How can it possibly be week three already?  Is it really Thanksgiving in a week?

I am doomed.

But anyway.  Week Three.  At this point, everyone is, in theory, halfway to 50K.  If you are on track, good for you!  I will come to your house in the night and burn demonic symbols into your lawn.  (Kidding.  I’d send the Landsquid.)  If you’re not halfway done, DO NOT PANIC and, most importantly, do not give up.

It’s easy to look at how much time you’ve wasted and look how far you have to go and get discouraged.  But there’s still time to catch up.  Especially if you write faster than me (which I’m fairly sure everyone does, as I always come in last in word wars at write-ins – Heck, last night I only had managed a third of what the person who won did in the same time period).  It might require a few days of sitting down and really going at it, but don’t give up just because you’re behind.  Any amount of words is more words than you had before starting, and brings you that much closer to a finished novel.

Another problem that Week Three tends to bring to light is giant plot holes.  Maybe that plot you carefully designed lasted you about 35K and now you have no idea what to do for your last 15K.  Maybe you didn’t plot out your story at all, preferring to pants the thing, and you’ve written your characters into a corner that you can’t figure out an escape from (it was all a dream!).  Maybe you just wrote the most amazing scene in the world, one that made you say “Yes!  YES, this is the book I’m writing!” and then realized that the rest of your story doesn’t fit with this perfect scene and will need to be rewritten.

Don’t cry.  Crying is only allowed when your computer eats your story.  (Back up.  Back up everywhere you can think of.)

Some stories aren’t savable.  You have two options: You can start a new story (some people restart their word counts if they do, but I think that’s overkill), or you can spend an hour (but try not to make it more than that, time, like coffee, is precious) brainstorming plot fixes.  If you find one, excellent, keep going.  If you can’t, go back to option one.  I have a friend who has based an entire novel off of her plot holes.  It’s fairly epic.

Here’s the thing, though – if you find yourself frustrated and miserable, finding every excuse not to write and hating every moment you are, it’s okay to stop.  You don’t have to win Nano.  No one will hate you if you don’t.  If you’ve tried and you don’t like it, don’t do it.  This novel thing isn’t for everyone, and it’s not worth being miserable over.

I think everyone spends at least a bit of Nano feeling a bit upset at the whole process.  Either you feel like you’re writing crap, or you’re behind and disappointed at yourself, or you’re wondering if this is really worth the death of your social life.  The difference is that you’re not really sad about it.  I’m 12K behind on my 100K goal, but I’m not losing sleep at night over it.  But if you are, to the point where it’s affecting your quality of life, then it’s not worth it.

But either way, we’re halfway done, Squiders.  Keep going, give it your all, and enjoy the ride.

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