It’s the last week of NaNoWriMo and some people have won already. But don’t give up if you’re still plodding towards that finish line, or if you’re in the impossible position of having hit 50k but not met your own personal goal. I know how hard that is. Suddenly, there’s nothing left to motivate you.
You have until midnight on the 30th November to change the facts, and you’re going to do it. Step one in doing that is not hanging around to read super long blog posts, so I’m gonna keep this one short.
Five steps to completing your NaNo novel in the next four or five days:
Decide what your goal is.
You can’t aim towards something unidentified and vague. Is it 50,000 words? 100,000? 30,000? Wherever you’ve set your goal, grab a piece of paper, scrawl it down, and stick it somewhere you can see it from your work station.
Break it up.
You don’t build a suit by deciding you’re going to do it and it magically assembling itself. You need the design (plot and characters). You need the materials (computer / tablet / notebook / typewriter / other apparatus of Writing Stuff Down). You need the skills (putting your butt in a chair and making words). And it still doesn’t happen all in one go. It takes time to assemble and render and it might not be functional at the end of it.
So sit down. Familiarise yourself with the design until you’re certain you know how you want it to look. Polish the materials and make sure you have access to them. And then decide how much time each day you’re going to dedicate to chair-butting and word-making.
Is your goal for the next hour 1000 words? Okay. Good. How many of those sessions will you need to hit your goal?
Have a snack.
Maybe you’re hungry, or you haven’t showered, or you need more tea/coffee. But it might not be physical: maybe you haven’t read a single book since you started the month. So take two hours out and look after yourself, and remind yourself why exactly you started doing this. Then dive back in.
If you’re stuck, ask someone to dare you something. Throw in a plot twist, whether it’s the tried-and-tested NaNo favourite, ninjas, or something a little more appropriate to your genre. Stick your personal best friend in the story to see how they fare. Change the gender of every character for one chapter just to see how it changes the dynamic. Describe their clothing, and then give them a costume that doesn’t suit them. Decide why that happened.
You can always cut it in rewrites, but you may not want to. It might be just the way to reveal something unexpected about your character.
Don’t give up.
It’s very tempting to get to the end and think, “I’m never going to make it.” Screw that. Repeat after me: SCREW THAT. ‘Course you’re gonna make it. Why wouldn’t you? I’ve known people who wrote 50k in a day, in three days, in a week. There’s absolutely no logical reason why you can’t achieve your personal goal, even if it’s not where you originally set it.
Just remember that if you fail NaNo, you’re not a failure. Not hitting one goal doesn’t take away your novelist cred. It’s just about reevaluating where you set goals in the future.
If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success.
Good luck for the rest of the month!
-- Iron Man