NaNoWriMo: The Halfway Point


There is no way I’m going to win NaNoWriMo without cheating.

I thought now that I was working less I’d magically have more free time, and I do, but there’s still so much for me to do. I made really good progress in week one, but week two has been a struggle. However, I do think I can still write 50k in a month, it just won’t all be on Brainfreeze Book.

So I’ve added a little folder called “Cheating” in Screivener and I’ll copy my uni work into it. “CHEATING!” you cry. Me: “Yeah, so what?” The uni work is a lot more important to finish this month, versus rushing through a draft for a book not due until next October, and said rushing might mean a lot more work in edits down the line. I’m reaching the bit in the book where the corporate espionage kicks in. I’ve interviewed my cousin, who is basically a white hat hacker and owner of Secure DNA, which was SUPER helpful, but I still need to do more research to figure out how this next section of the plot will pan out. If I just make shit up, it’s going to stink and I’m going to have to re-write it all anyway. That’s a waste of time.

SO. I’m aiming to write at least 30k in Brainfreeze Book, which I’m well on my way to completing, and I’m also pasting in my essays and such and still updating my NaNo word count, because I’d find it disappointing to see my word count so far below the “goal”.

Every year I try NaNoWriMo, but the emphasis on word count over everything else always ends up stressing me out, and my anxiety is in overrdrive all the time anyway. I’ve tried NaNo twice before. Both books had to be thrown out completely. One is trunked forever, and the other one has a premise I love but that iteration of the book was so bad. SO VERY BAD. My best friend Erica read it and was like “…yeah, you need to throw this out and start again.” And she was so right. It was possibly one of the worst things I’d ever written, and it’s because I kept madly tapping even though I knew it was wrong. The books I write slower (first draft between 3-6 months)? Those are the ones published.

So if you struggle with NaNoWriMo, you’re far from the only one! For some people it works brilliantly. I thought this year maybe I could properly win it, since I have a detailed outline. And I probably could win it, but the draft would suck and I’d possibly fail my courses. So that’s not the way for me to go. I’m not enjoying the race, so I’m taking a different track. I’ll still probably write 50k this month, they just won’t all be on the same thing. It’s not wrong. There’s no wrong way to write, as long as you’re writing and making progress.

-Laura Lam, a three-time NaNoWriMo failure


5 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: The Halfway Point

  1. “Every year I try NaNoWriMo, but the emphasis on word count over everything else always ends up stressing me out,”
    ^ This is why I’m not doing it this year. I ‘won’ for 5 years in a row, and what I’ve learned through that, is that it doesn’t work for me. Every draft has been trunked, never to be returned to because the story shifted into something I don’t want to re-visit; too full of utter rubbish.

    1. Yeah. Some people can draft quickly. I’m not one of them. I like to think things through and have a draft I can work with at the end of it. False Hearts took 3 months to draft, for instance. The editing took about another 3 months. And that one sold, yay!

  2. I hear you on the slower drafts. I can do NaNo without having to bin everything, but it still doesn’t really work well. I learned very early on in my writing process that if something feels wrong I need to stop and fix it right then. As you said, I could keep writing, but it’d be a waste of time.

    It’s good to have more posts about how to make NaNo work for different processes, I think, because it’s such a big event now and it’s so easy to end up thinking you’re the only person whose process or methods just don’t mesh well with the NaNoWriMo rules. But we’re not.

    Good luck with the revised writing goal and all the uni work!

  3. I totally agree. I’ve never done NaNo, because I don’t see the point in stressing myself out to churn out 50,000 words for the sake of 50,000 words. I’d much rather take things slower and produce, say, 20,000 words that I feel are actually constructive and worthwhile. My writing pace has always been sporadic, depending on what scene or story I’m working on at a particular time. Some scenes fly out of my fingers, while others get dragged out a word at a time. It doesn’t really matter as long as I’m happy with them at the end of it. But if I’m just throwing words onto a page to meet an arbitrary wordcount, I’m just wasting my time because I know they’ll either be thrown out or totally rewritten later.

    I think NaNo is great for people who’ve always meant to write something but have never got around to it. I’m sure it provides motivation they may not otherwise have. But for those of us who write anyway, and are already producing lengthy or multiple completed works, it feels like an unnecessary distraction.

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