Wednesday, November 16, 2016

8 Mid-Month NaNoWriMo Tips For Making It Through

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books in lots of weird genres like fantasy (Blood of Kings and Kinsman Chronicles), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website. You can also try two of her fantasy novels for free here and here.

It's the middle of November, which means the middle of National Novel Writing Month.

How you doing so far?

I had a rough weekend. I had company in from out of town. They were here for four days, and while I did try to write in the early, early morning or after everyone went to bed, I didn't do very well. I only managed about 2000 words for four days. So I'm a little behind on my own goals.

This is the time of the month when many authors slow down. They could be losing steam. Or life might be getting in the way. Whatever the reason, if you've made winning NaNo your goal, you've got to stick with it. Here are some tips to making it through to the end.

1. Don't delete. Don't edit!
Seriously. Due to my company this past weekend, I tried to get up early and type, but I was so tired that I wasn't being very effective. I managed 1333 words on Thursday, then did 1248 on Friday. Saturday I sat down to get some words in, and I was so out of it (fatigue-wise) that I tried to get going by editing Friday's words, and I ended up deleting several hundred words as I rewrote things. It was really sad. If you're wanting to reach that daily word count, and in the end, reach 50K, don't delete anything. Don't edit. You can do all that later on when you have more time. For now, just get those words out onto the page!

2. Don't stop to research.
Talk about a time killer. Research will sap hours off the clock. You might think, "Ooh. I just need to Google this one thing, and then two hours later you're pulling out your hair because you got distracted by a nifty list of plot types. Stay focused. If you come to a place in your story where you need research, use a placeholder or add a comment to remind yourself later, when you're in editing mode, that this is a place that needs some more work.

3. Factor in time off for Thanksgiving.
Don't forget that a big holiday weekend is coming. This may mean even more writing time for you, which is great, but for many of us, it means a day with family, away from the computer, and a second day standing in lines, shopping. That's a lot of time away from the computer, so if you can put in some extra hours this week to compensate for the time you know you'll be taking off next week, it will go a long way toward reducing your holiday anxiety. It's no fun to be sitting at the dinner table, eating your holiday meal, while inside you're crying because the clock is ticking and you are behind on your word count. Plan ahead! You'll be glad you did.

4. Skip around. Write anything at all.
When you sit down at that computer, make your butt-in-chair time count. If you're stuck in your current scene, skip ahead and write the next scene. Or go write a future conversation you know is going to happen. Dialogue often comes quickly and can fill multiple pages. The point is to keep those fingers flying and write anything at all to get in your word count for the day.

5. Write extra words in unlikely places.
You might be surprised to find out that words add up quickly. If you've got some unavoidable errands to do today, get creative with your writing. No matter where you go, keep that brain working. Dwell on your idea. Daydream your way through the next scene you'll write. And get creative. Jot down some words of dialogue on the back of a receipt or a napkin. Type some out on your cell phone while waiting in line at the store. Dictate on your phone while taking a walk. Writing a few extra words here and there, then adding them in to the story when you get home can boost your word count in very pleasant ways.

6. Support each other with pep talks and word wars.
You likely know friends who are doing NaNo, so send them a word of encouragement and schedule in some word wars. Two or more are stronger than one, and people often get energized off the excitement of others. It's contagious. So if you're feeling discouraged, share in the comments and let us pump you up!

7. Stuck? Don't stop to figure it out.
At least not until you're completed your daily word count goal. One thing you can do is email some friends for brainstorming help or post an SOS for help on social media, then get back to work, writing a different area of the story. Once you've reached your word count for the day, then you can check and see if any great ideas came in that might help you through that rough patch.

8. Only entertain positive thoughts.
Your thoughts can help you, but they can also hurt you. Stay positive! If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, stop! Tell yourself that you can do it. Chant "I think I can, I think I can" like the little engine. Because you CAN. But if you mope and bite your fingernails and procrastinate, then you will be sabotaging your success. So think positive and cheer yourself on.

So, how are you doing? Share your own mid-month tips in the comments, and if you're stuck, comment on how we can help you make it through.


  1. I really like point #2... as my book is a sort of historical, I've realized there are lots of things I don't know that I need to know to make this book good... but I don't have time to look them up. So, as I come across these things, I have a notebook where I write "Research such and such for chapter #." That way I don't forget what needs to be fleshed out, but I can also focus on just getting the story out.

  2. I am not setting any speed records, but I am on target to finish by the end of the month. Assuming, like you mentioned, I don't lose a ton of ground over Thanksgiving. This is my first time doing the challenge, and I really like it. I don't feel particularly stressed about it, and I really like the community aspect. Even though I'm super introverted and didn't expect that. Not pausing to research is a big problem for me. With writing the historical, I know that if I don't stop to research sometimes, I could set up some really big problems for myself in edits. I have to be smart about how much time I allow myself.

    1. That makes sense, Steph. Yeah, the community aspect is a lot of fun.

  3. I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I'm planning to give it a shot next year with my best friend, so I'll definitely be using these then! My friend and I already encourage each other and help each other a lot on our writing projects, so I definitely agree that #6 is super helpful. Thanks for the tips, Mrs. Williamson!

    1. So fun to do NaNo with a friend. You have lots of time to plan, Olivia. When next year rolls around, you'll be ready!

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, Mrs. Williamson! I'm feeling quite behind right now...only at 10,000 words and haven't written anything in several days. We took a family vacation for a few days near the beginning of this month (needed some regrouping after a huge month in October), and then we had an earthquake (I live in New Zealand, about an hour away from where the main quake hit, but we felt it fairly good down here), and with helicopters flying in and out all day and hoping to be of service to those that need help I just haven't gotten much done. Oh well. I figure that even if I don't get a whole lot done, I'll be further along in my story than I ever was before, and that's a bonus!

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Good job on looking at the positives, Esther. Yes, lots of times life happens and you just have to deal. Sounds like you'll be gaining a lot of interesting experiences and insight with the earthquake, and that is always helpful to a writer.