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NaNoWriMo: The Story Thus Far

November 15th is on the horizon. You're almost halfway there.

Photo courtesy of NataGolubnycha on iStock.

If you’re taking part in National Novel Writing Month, you’re either celebrating the halfway point or weeping over it. You might be doing both. You’re, hopefully, somewhere close to that terrifying 25,000 word landmark.

We’re just a few days away from November 15th, the dreaded or highly anticipated halfway mark. My current word count is slightly over 27,000 words, something that is shocking even to me. I will be the first to admit that I have not won NaNoWriMo every time I’ve taken part. Since 2010, I’ve had years where I’ve gotten quite close, a couple where I’ve won, and others where I’ve failed so spectacularly that I was too embarrassed to even list the attempt on the NaNoWriMo website.

However, this year, I’ve actually been ahead of the daily quotas for most of the month so far. I was under the goal of 1,667 words per day for the first two days of the month but managed to pull ahead with some strong days of writing over two thousand words.

With that said, here are a couple of things that have helped.

Run ahead instead of chasing the rear.

There’s something to be said for the psychological feeling of being on target, being ahead, rather than feeling you’re frantically running to catch up. The former will motivate you to keep going while the latter deepens your exhaustion. Do absolutely everything you can to reach your target number today.

In past years, since I usually am that person who can’t quite write enough each day and lags behind, I don’t feel good about writing. Once I’m behind, I can’t focus on the number of words I have written, I can only see how far behind I am. This year, since I’ve had a few good days where I’ve written over two thousand words in a single day, I actually feel confident that I can finish without breaking my neck.

Push hard to get ahead. It might just make it easier to stay leading the pack.

Draw on personal experience.

This can be quite hard if you’re writing something that is sci-fi or fantasy, but there are still ways to adapt your personal experiences and feelings to different settings. Take some time to think about if you can clearly remember times you’ve been extremely happy, frustrated, or deeply saddened, and see if you can adapt the circumstances of that to the protagonist of your novel.

My book this year is very near-future sci-fi, to the point that I almost call it contemporary. Because of this setting, it’s very easy for me to draw on my own experiences and memories and add them to the book.

If it’s difficult to do it directly, thinking about a strong feeling you’ve experienced and writing about it in detail can get more words down. It’s easier to write about a modified event you’ve gone through. Once the memories hit you, there’ll be so many details you’ll want to include and the words will come to mind much easier.

Try jumping around your timeline.

This is a risky recommendation. Sometimes, it’s easy to write different scenes throughout a story and connect the dots. Other times, your dots end up so far apart that it seems impossible to unite the different scenes.

If you jump around your timeline to get the creative juices flowing and write something set later in your book, try to choose events that aren’t too far away. For example, if you’re two-fourths of the way through your plot, write something that’s two-fourths or three-fourths of the way along. Avoid things in the four-fourths section of your plot, since the farther away the events you write are, the harder it’ll be to connect things. Basically, jump ahead to keep yourself writing, just not too far ahead.

However, I do strongly recommend that you know your ending at this phase of the game. 

The sooner you have that settled, the easier it’ll be to keep pushing forward, regardless of what your current word count is.

Wherever you are in your book, keep writing!