Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – The Sagging Middle

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?

8 thoughts on “Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – The Sagging Middle

  1. The lagging middle — or floppy end — is me. I’m at the end of my story (but THAT’S okay — I still have a final story to tell), and I just feel the well is empty. I’m unhappy while I am writing. When I go back and re-read, it’s not total crap, but I feel like I’ve take a bunch of detours and written around things instead of through them, if that makes sense. Rather unhappy, but I keep telling myself that I have more good stuff on the page than I’ve had in months (which is absolutely true — even my picky inner censor can not argue with that).

    I don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish this story — part of me is tempted to go back to the beginning and start rewriting, but you are probably right. I should push through until the end of the last story, and then go back and see what needs to be done on the scene level.

    I’m just short of 19000; going to write today, even if it’s just 500 words.

    (-: I’m glad you are doing this series!

    • Yay! for reaching the end of your story; that’s great progress. Sorry you’re feeling unhappy, but glad to hear you are continuing to write anyway. Sounds like you are having a very productive writing month.

      p.s. Glad to hear you are enjoying this series.

  2. My goal for November was to make it through 125 pages of revisions to my WIP. I’m at page 55, so I’m 7 or 8 pages behind–not terrible, The two challenges I see are: most of what’s left to write in Act 2 is brand new stuff that doesn’t exist yet, and that’s never a quick process for me. (Who am I kidding? None of it’s quick for me. My pen name should be Moe Lasses.)

    The other issue, which is more troubling, is that I realized yesterday that my hero is really inconsistent. I wanted him to be a sexy version of Sheldon Cooper. If that’s impossible for you to imagine, don’t feel bad. Apparently it is for me, too. What I’m winding up with is a character who pinballs from Sheldon to Leonard to Raj. Not good. On the upside, I don’t see any traces of Howard, so that’s good.

    • Jeanne, I LOL’d at the “Moe Lasses” pen name. That one would work quite well for my writing style as well.

      Glad you are making progress, even if you currently have a Sheldon/Leonard/Raj hero. Hopefully it will only take small changes to get him aligned with what you had envisioned.

    • I love, love, love Raj except for that little entitlement problem (it makes him a very realistic character, but a bit problematic as a boyfriend because that Fatal Flaw keeps rearing its head and keeping him from happiness). There’s a lot I like about Sheldon, too, but that’s very asexual. Leonard is a real sweetie, and even Howard has his good moments, now that’s he’s not quite so desperate!

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