My First NaNoWriMo: Pitfalls & How to Overcome Them

Holy crap, Batman! November’s almost over!

So for the last 26 days, I’ve been punch away at the 50k word challenge that is National Novel Writing Month. Being that this was my first time taking on the crazy challenge, I figured I’d share some tricks that I did to help me succeed as well as pitfalls I definitely ran into.

Before the month, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I mean I had some idea (after all, I am a research junkie), but I had a million and one insecurities and doubts running through my head. “Should I take this on?” “What if I get writer’s block?” “What if I come down with an epic case of laziness?” “What if I procrastinate until the last week, then have to sacrifice all sleep for the sake of meeting the goal?”

And my favorite insecurity leading up to NaNo: “What if I forget how to write?”

Well after I successfully validated my 50k words this morning (at 2 a.m. **cough cough**), I’m here to tell you that NaNoWriMo is totally doable.

What’s the trick? Just keep writing.

I know, I know. That’s what EVERYONE says, but there’s a reason for that: it works. Not going to lie to you, there were days I didn’t put one word to paper. I started off really well, knocking out 26k in the first week, but then I hit a dry spell where for nearly five days, I couldn’t (didn’t) open my laptop and get typing.

What got me out of that slump? A local Write-in with other NaNo participants in my area. Honestly, if it weren’t for those meet-ups with other writers, I probably would have lost a lot of motivation. I never put more words to paper than those nights I sat at a café and word-warred with other WriMo’s.

So for those of you who struggled with NaNoWriMo2014 or are contemplating participating in the future, next November, make time to participate in those Write-In’s.

Moving onto one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from other WriMo’s: Losing interest in your NaNo project.

Granted, it kind of depends on how far in you are with your word count, but if you’re halfway though or more, please please PLEASE don’t just throw in the towel.

Odds are you’ve just hit a wall in the story. So instead of giving up, I suggest you take some time to get to know your characters. Write a scene where your character shares their back-story or a scene where they’re pushed beyond their limits. It doesn’t matter if this scene doesn’t make it into the final draft, but count in toward your 50k regardless. Revision is for December. November is for writing.

This trick got me over many a [what I thought was] writer’s block. So instead of giving up, take a step back from the plot and get to know your characters.

Hope this helps you move forward with your writing project, whether or not it’s NaNoWriMo.

Happy Writing, Everyone!


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