Last year during NaNo was the first time (if I remember correctly) that I didn’t find myself falling behind shortly after NaNo started.
I’ll never forget the pressure of feeling like I needed a good 5k day to catch me back up, or even that feeling of being 10-15k behind as the month wore on.
Luckily, in most cases, I was able to get a lot of words pushed out in just a few days and closed the gap, even if it came down to the wire and ended up putting my at 50k right at the end of November.
Here are two things that helped me catch up in those instances.
Dedicated writing days
For me, working a full time job and having three kids means that I don’t have a lot of spare writing time. But, I was able to pinpoint at least a Saturday morning chunk of time most weeks to write for two or three hours in a row.
This helped me tremendously! I was able to get so much done. I think that being behind helped me for two reasons.
1. I had the pressure of feeling “behind” (that stinkin’ NaNo stats chart!)
2. Even though I hadn’t been able to sit down and write, I’d been thinking about my story
This second one is so important. When I finally got down to write, I knew so much of where I wanted to go, what I wanted to happen, and the words just flew out and onto the screen. Were they perfect? Heck no! But they were there, they were saved, and they were enough to keep the momentum going
When you get stuck, sometimes it is really hard to move past a certain plot point or scene because you just can’t figure out the “right” move. However, in drafting, sometimes we have to throw in a wild card every now and again to keep the story going so we can either 1. Make the new wild card work for us or 2. We identify why something isn’t working.
The way that I like to do this is to think of the most crazy, random thing that could possibly happen and throw it in. For example, writing a science fiction story? A UFO attacks or your character stumbles upon a really cool laser rifle. Fantasy? A pack of centaurs charges through or your character is now indebted to a gnome. Contemporary? Maybe your character gets a sudden text that their mom/dad/grandma/best friend is in the hospital.
The key to this is remembering that in drafting anything goes and we are truly just telling ourselves the story. Sometimes we have to coerce that story a bit and get the wrong words out before we can identify the right ones.
I’ve talked about word sprints quite a bit, but the reason I do is because once I started sprinting, I realized that timing myself was the key to pushing past my inner editor and just getting words written.
I am also a patron of author Bethany Atazadeh and she hosts sprints in her Patron Discord Group. But all kinds of authors are hosting events, sprints, and more during NaNo. Check out a few of them below:
So, how do you catch up? Have you tried sprinting or any of the groups that I mentioned here? I’d love to know of more events or opportunities to sprint in the comments.