Monday, November 12, 2012

Reaching and Passing the Peak of NaNoWriMo Mountain

We are currently in the second week of NaNoWriMo, and in a few days, we will be moving through the halfway mark and into the third week.

Surely, many of us started with a bang, fingers striking keys the second after midnight on November 1. We've been eager, working out strategies, waking up early to get the writing in, developing some scheme to make sure we get in our 1667+ words a day.

This is about the time, however, where some of us that started strong begin to peter out. We begin to question our story, actually think about the writing instead of writing. We begin to wonder if our story is good.

At this stage, this point where we're about to hit the peak of the writing mountain and need that push to the peak, we need to remember this:

What opportunities? Well, surely not to ditch the writing altogether and call your NaNo 2012 experience a bust. Below, I present you with a few opportunities that can keep you writing . . . and ultimately winning NaNoWriMo.
  1. Jump in Where Inspiration Hits. A lot of us tend to write chronologically, jumping into the story at the beginning and barreling our way through to the end. If you're beginning to feel STUCK in your story, then explore other places in that story where you might go instead. Do you know how your story's going to end? Write that. Do you know what happens when a particular funny moment or conflict-filled moment might occur? Write that. The point is to keep writing. NaNo is not the place to let the inner editor or writer's block or doubt get in the way of getting words on the page. You'll have enough time after November 30 to question the writing and make the words you wrote during NaNo pretty.

  2. Talk with Your Main Character. If you're a writer that makes sure you get your 1667 words in every day, then take a day off (you know you can spread that day's word count over a couple of days and be fine), and spend time with your main character. Talk to the character. Ask about her/his day, how s/he's feeling with the story. Buy the main character her/his fave drink, get the lips loose, and see what secrets and stories fall out. There might be fodder from the activity or at the very least a reconnect to the character and thus the story.

  3. Move into a New Story. I use NaNoWriMo the way I need NaNo in my writing life. For most of the seven NaNo trips I've completed, I started and finished with one story. However, there have been times when I started NaNo with half a novel, and my goal was to complete the last 50k of that novel. Once, while halfway through NaNo, another story idea burned stronger in my mind, so I stopped story one and jumped into story two. At the end of November, I copied and pasted the "NaNo" work from story one and story two and used that to make my 50k. For me, I don't restrict myself to the idea of "a 50k novel" in 30 days. I fixate on "50k of writing" in 30 days and write the 50k I need to produce.

What do YOU do when NaNo Mountain gets a bit too steep for you and your writing to climb?


Shon Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, and educator. She has published both academically and creatively while also interviewing women writers on her popular blog, ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. In 2012, her second mystery, Into the Web and her short story "I Wanna Get Off Here" (in the short story collection, The Corner Cafe) were published. Her next release, Saying No to the Big O, will be published in December. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University ... and trying to find the time to WRITE.
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  1. Three excellent suggestions, Shon, that have worth well beyond the scope of NaNoWriMo.

  2. Great advice here, especially that to take a break and spend a little time getting to know your character. I also like the idea of not necessarily working chronologically . Perfect timing for your post! Thanks! :)

  3. My wife tells me that at a minute after midnight on November 1, I was snoring so loudly that I woke her up ... I'll have to take her word for it, because I was sleeping so soundly that I don't remember.

  4. Thanks, Kathryn and Edith. :-)

    I have to say that the last one is me this NaNo cycle. There's a pull in another direction, and instead of beating my head against a wall, I'm going to focus on the story that wants my attention!

    I had to LOL at you, Christopher. I have to admit, unlike most of my writer friends who were banging the keys come 12:01 a.m., I was relaxing and watching ESPN. Only until a friend bemoaned the fact that I wasn't writing did I start!

  5. I don't end on November 30! Dang it all, even if I don't get word count (which I almost never do), the focus all month gives me serious momentum, so I keep going. This year, I had a bad start, so I'm really behind, but who cares? I always sign up because I love the group energy, and all the rah-rah on the social networks.

  6. Oh, and to add to #3 - I've written a substantial amount of non-fiction during NaNo months. Why not? It's not like they'll throw me in jail for it, right?

  7. I'm finishing my NaNo from 3 years ago after the two before it. Good luck to all of you!

    Morgan Mandel

  8. Here, Here, Dani! LOL I'm the same way. Writers need to write, so why restrict yourself during a month where the goal is to abandon the hang-ups and write?

  9. Yeah, I stopped my NaNo novel and started another one. Hooray for plot bunnies because I like my new story. Last year I wrote two novels during NaNo. One is the second faerie novel I am currently editing and will be pubbed in Feb. The other one is a fanfiction piece that's a mashup with Jane Eyre and vampires called THORNFIELD MANOR in case anyone wants to check it out on I like the idea of getting to know your character better. My MC has two love interests so I need to know them better too. It's a YA urban fantasy. With demons. And Angels. And magic. No faeries though.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.