The dreaded middle: NaNoWriMo, keep on writing!

It’s the middle of NaNoWriMo and you’re wide-eyed studying your word tracker. It’s just not where you thought it would be. Or it is, and it’s taken everything. You can’t possibly have two more weeks in you!

Or maybe you’re wondering how you’re going to solve the big picture problem that started dogging you around day 8.

Middles suck, don’t let them get you down

Collectively speaking, middles are never the strong suit. Never as exciting as beginnings, never as exhilarating as endings. It’s the sludge in the middle you have to trudge through. It’s the Wednesday. It’s the Book Two of the sequel. It’s just not living up to expectations.

The same goes for a lot of writers during this middle slog in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). You started strong with big goals. You were hitting or even exceeding your estimations.

But it’s the halfway mark and you’re wondering how you ever thought you could do this. And why the heck you told everyone on every social media channel ever. (Or some such self-defeating self-talk.)

Well stop that.

Here are some tips to get your mind back in the NaNoWriMo Go Mode.

Getting through the fat NaNoWriMo Middle

  • Read the pep talk pages. Lots of authors have stepped up to encourage you with their own experiences of doing NaNoWriMo or what it means to finish a draft. I like this one from Roxane Gay. She talks about ditching all the writing advice and writing what she wants to write how she wants to write it.
  • Think back to the beginning. Why did you want to do this in the first place? Read over the notes you jotted before November 1. Find a nugget of inspiration to help light the flame.
  • Take a day off. It’s okay! Seriously. Yes, your word count will shift. But look at the math. If you were doing the original 1,667 words per day, one day off and spread out over the last 14 days is only an additional 119 words per day. Our brains function really well in the background, they solve problems while we regroup looking at cat videos and going for walks in nature. Remember nature?
  • Consider picking up a writing prompt and using it somehow in your next day’s writing session. Whether it’s a character development prompt or simply a big picture overview prompt, like this one I came up with, prompts can reach a different part of your brain to unwrap ideas you didn’t even know you had.
  • Be a rebel. Seriously. There’s a NaNoWriMo Rebel forum that’s all about doing things their way. I’m one of them this year. I’m not writing 50,000 words. I’m using NaNoWriMo 2017 to work through what I’m calling my second draft of a NaNo 2014 project. I’m adding words, rewriting scenes, deleting words, changing POV, changing character names, merging or killing characters. There’s no way to track this without going insane. So I made a goal to get through 50,000 words of editing, front to back, and hoping to hit 60 hours of work. Do you need rethink what a successful NaNoWriMo means? Give it a shot. Talk to others.
  • Check out writing advice from published authors to give you a jumpstart. Here are some quotes or comments I pulled from loads of authors during the last book festival I attended. So much great perspective. Even the published men and women have to stop comparing themselves and hit the learning curve about what works best for them.

Whatever you end up doing — going forward, stopping this year — take some time to think about what you learned about yourself to this point. Did you learn that you’re more creative from 10 p.m. to midnight? Did you learn if you’re really a pantser no matter how much you loved the advance plotting you did? Did you find deadlines make you work harder or just make you crazy? Did you meet crazy other steampunk-romance-epic writer you want to keep in touch with as you go on?

NaNoWriMo is insane and wild and inspiring and a pain in the behind. But I truly feel the energy from it — thousands of us writers day and night, around the globe, reaching for our own personal goal all in the name of getting that story out of our hearts and minds and onto the page.

Giddy’up!!! Two more weeks of word play coming your way! You got this!