I spent this past weekend at a convention in Portland, which means I didn’t write much. I’ve already validated and won, of course, but the book isn’t done yet, so I’m still working. I just emerged from the darkest part to where the heroes start winning for realsies. The home stretch. The hardest part, in some respects.
If you’re on track, that’s awesome! W00t! Keep on keeping on! Good luck keeping up your word count over the holidays, because that can be rough. Lock yourself in the bathroom for a little while if that’s the only way to escape Uncle Bob who wants to drone about politics.
If you’re not on track, you should know that many folks give up by week 3. Once you fall behind, it can be incredibly challenging to stare at that graph and feel motivation to churn out words and catch up. Especially when your story is starting to grate on you, or it isn’t coming out like you thought it would, or you have another shiny idea you want to flit to like a butterfly seeking cocaine.
Things to consider if you’re struggling:
First drafts suck, especially when you’re new to novel-length storytelling. The vast majority of us who NaNo and have become published hide our first few NaNo novels from the world because they’re awful. And when I say awful, I mean they don’t have enough redeeming value to be worth spending the time revising.
Writing itself is supposed to be pleasurable. Your brain should get a rush when it’s high on storytelling. If you never feel even a smidge of that, maybe you’re trying to tell the wrong kind of story. Storytelling is best when it comes from passion. Your passion, not someone else’s. What do you love? What are you driven to explore? What makes you feel a sense of wonder? Write about that.
If you’re fine with starting things and never finishing them, that’s okay. Not everyone is going to write books and publish them, and that’s perfectly fine. I won’t look down on you for counting all your words from three or four different works you started and never finished. Anyone who does is an asshole.
And that’s the thing. Writing is personal. It’s an individual sport, not a team effort. Publishing is a team effort, but writing is very much not. For some folks, 1667 per day, every day, just isn’t going to happen. 500 per day, 5 days a week except for vacation, is a respectable writing pace that can next you 100-130k per year. 5000 per weekend is also fine, and will get you as much as 260k per year.
If the problem is about how much planning you did or didn’t do, it’s fine to sit down and just let your fingers barf out whatever comes to mind. Grab some pictures and use them as prompts to write some flashfic or short stories. Write some fanfic. Do an enhanced outline, where you get detailed about what you want in the book, but don’t actually write narrative prose.
Have fun. If you’re not having fun, either stop or change up with you’re doing.