No, I don’t mean the after-effect of holiday eating or what happens when the elastic in your gym shorts breaks, I’m talking about what happens right about now during the month of NaNo.
We’re at the mid-way point; probably the most challenging time of the whole month. The initial excitement of the first week, when stories were fresh and new tends to fade about now and be replaced by daily word counts that are a little more challenging to hit and creative ideas that are a little harder to come by.
For some – those whose stories are rolling right along – this can be an exciting part of the process where the germ of a story idea has taken root and grown into something even better than first imagined. For others, this can be the time when what started out as a great idea now looks like a tangled mess with no discernible resolution. You may have written yourself into a corner, or noticed you don’t actually have any solid conflict, or realized that 10,000 words ago your story took and unexpected turn and now you don’t know what’s next.
It can be tempting at this point to read over what you’ve written so far and do a little editing.
Don’t do it.
One of the features of a NaNo story is supposed to be the freedom from listening to your internal editor or giving into re-writing before you’ve even finished writing. It’s the time for a “Don’t Look Down” draft, a chance to get your story on the page, no matter how rough the form, without over-thinking or talking yourself out of it or getting stuck in the “this has to be perfect” trap.
Once the month is over, and you’ve let what you’ve written set a little bit, then you can go back and pull it apart, look at the structure, check for conflict and figure out your beats, scenes, and turning points. Now is definitely not the time for that.
Any day where you end with more words on the page than you started with is a good writing day, so for now, just keep writing.
Don’t get distracted by your To-Be-Read pile or the internet or, worse yet, give up on your story and go binge-watch some Netflix instead. Trust me, you’ll kick yourself later if you do (yes, that’s the 2016-voice of experience speaking).
I’m off now to take my own advice. I fell asleep during last night’s writing session (again!) so I have about 2,000 words to spew out write before I call it a night.
As you can tell from the chart on the right, I’m a bit behind today’s 25,000 word goal, but I’ve been moving along consistently so I’m still considering the month a win.
So, how is your writing going this month? Got any successes to share and/or good suggestions for those who are struggling?