NaNoWriMo Crisis Intervention

‘Tis the season. On October 31st, everyone is either hoarding candy, or calmly awaiting the arrival of NaNoWriMo. Or both, depending on what corner of the world you find yourself in. Pre-NaNo jitters are usually a mix of excitement and dread, especially if you’re new.

What horrors will you find in this frantic month of writing? Will you be able to finish? Will your lack of plotting send everything up in flames? Will you even like your plot?{silly questions, yes? Horrors lurk around every corner, you will finish with a few scraps of energy and a sense of accomplishment, flames merely serve as motivation, and no one likes their plot all the time.}

I actually wasn’t super concerned about NaNoWriMo. I had an outline, a half-finished WIP that I set aside for a week so I could come back to it fresh on November 1. I’ve been working on it since September, so I had a great idea of where it was headed, the characters. Everything should be good. When I opened my document, ready to make that graph on spike up … it didn’t happen. I’d left off a week ago because I was bored with the current scene. Solution? I’m not above writing scenes out of chronological order, if that’s what it takes. Except…the thought of writing any of the other scenes wasn’t incredibly appealing either.

I scanned my outline over, wondering what the problem was. I could drop a dead body somewhere, blow something up … right? A niggling feeling started in the back of my mind, usually the same one that moves me toward rewriting the whole thing all over again. I couldn’t exactly peg anything down, but nothing felt right.

Assess what is important to you.

Are you mostly doing this for the word count and the experience? Then fly free! Do what you feel like doing, whether it’s clicking the ‘Dare Me’ button on the NaNo site ten times, or just throwing your medieval fantasy into the modern world. Word war, eat chocolate, howl at the moon, and write fast.

Is finishing important, because you’ve never finished a novel before? Then write down what’s actually bugging you with this story. For me, it took a little while to figure out that the predictability of my plot after the midpoint was bothering me. I could recite it forwards and backwards in my sleep. Since this is a sci-fi novel, this isn’t a tiny novella-size word count that I’m hoping to end up with. I don’t want to ‘waste’ 40-50k worth of words. If you can take a day off from NaNo to iron out the problem that’s bothering you, it’ll be much easier to work with that solid foundation the rest of the month.

Figure out why you’re doing NaNo.

Are you just hopping in because it looked fun? Are you doing it because you got overwhelmed with Preptober posts and felt guilt tripped into NaNo-ing? Have you been planning to do it since December 2016? Is it a tradition for you? Is it your favorite month of the year?

Everyone has a different reason. Mine was–and is–because I love doing Camp NaNo, and the social aspect/word counters/wars/special occasion feel makes it better.

Feel free to switch.

If a certain concept isn’t working out, feel free to ditch it. This depends on how well you know your own writing tendencies. If you know that you tend to drop things a few days in, and there’s nothing wrong with your novel–or, at least, nothing too messy that can’t feel right at home in a first draft–then power through! If you know that the particular writing prompt you plucked off Pinterest at 11:59 PM on October 31st is the problem, then change it up.

I’m actually not sure how my NaNo is going to look now. Maybe I’ll iron out the holes in this novel. Maybe I’ll switch to hammering out the fourth draft of another WIP. Maybe I’ll plot an idea that’s been attracting me for a little while.

In celebration/commiseration over NaNoWriMo, I’m running a 20% off sale on my content editing services through midnight {because midnight is the hour of spooky things, creaky houses, and deadlines} on November 10th. If you have questions before you apply, you can reach me through the comments, or the Contact form on this site ❤

how is your nano going? tell me about it–word counts, projects, bumps in the road! what are your favorite nano survival tips?


2 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Crisis Intervention

  1. jemjoneswriter says:

    I think finishing is important for me because I’ve never finished a first draft before (and I won’t feel like a ‘real writer’ until I do). And I love my story. But… I can’t plot. *throws laptop at wall*

    Thanks for the “crisis intervention” – it’s always nice to know that other writers aren’t perfect either 🙂
    Jem Jones


  2. rosedalearts says:

    Hmmm…I definitely need to pay attention to some niggling sense of my plot being off, especially because I derailed myself from the middle of the outline and don’t know where it’s going now. So, I’m glad I found your post just in time!


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