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Katherine is the Managing Editor at The Hudsucker. She has been working in libraries for the past 10 years and holds a B.A. in American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. In her free time, the Seattleite enjoys writing fiction, going to brunch, taking long walks with her roommate, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. Katherine is a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and has probably seen every Marvel movie at least five times. She loves classic rock and can quote even the most obscure lines from The Simpsons. Follow Katherine on Twitter: @thethingiskat.

Five Ways to Stay Caught up During NaNoWriMo


Image Credit: NaNoWriMo.org

November is almost half way over, and that means those participating in National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, should be almost half way done with their novels. The goal of NaNoWriMo is for each participant to write 50,000 words in the month of November, about 1667 words a day, which is essentially the length of a standard novel. Many people, myself included, attempt this challenge every year but begin to fall behind at some point in the middle of the month and never quite regain the momentum needed to finish. Though it is difficult to write a 50,000 word novel in a month between commitments and other surprises that life likes to throw at us, it is definitely still possible. Below are five tips to help you complete your novel, even if you’ve already fallen behind.

Go To A Write-In

Write-ins can be surprisingly productive, and also quite fun. For someone like myself who usually writes at home but ends up becoming easily distracted, a write-in is the perfect setting to help get focused. The environments try to be as distraction free as possible, and being surrounded by so many other motivated writers can be quite inspiring. Most cities have lots of opportunities for write-ins at all kinds of different places and during times that will fit almost anyone’s schedule. Many public libraries and coffee shops host write-ins during the week, and the NaNoWriMo website can help you find one in your area.

Seek Out Prompts

Image Credit: NaNoWriMo.org

Sometimes we all need a little kick to get over a hump in our stories, and prompts can be quite helpful in doing so. They can be very simple and generic statements, such as, “imagine your characters having a dinner party” or words or phrases that might trigger some sort of emotion or thought to get your creative juices flowing. A quick Google search will bring up lots of websites that might help guide you through your creative block. There are prompt generators for every genre, and they come in all different types. You can find visual prompts, lyric prompts, plot suggestions, and almost anything else you might want. This website is one of my favorites because of all the different kinds of prompts you can get from it. The NaNoWriMo website also has a section on inspiration to help get you going. Having a friend or confidant read over your story is also good because it can help raise questions that you hadn’t thought of addressing before, which can help guide your story in many possible different directions.

Find Motivation

Whether it be through rewarding yourself or through friendly competition, a little motivation can go a long way in helping you complete your novel. Try challenging your friends to see who can write the most words in a day or see how you stack up against other people from your region on the NaNoWriMo website. If you’re easily distracted by the internet, try disconnecting and allow yourself some time online after you’ve reached certain word goals you’ve set. Or make bigger rewards for yourself for hitting weekly word goals, like going to a movie or going out to eat. Finding those extra ways to motivate yourself to meet your daily word counts will definitely pay off in the long run and help you not fall behind.

Make A Playlist

Image Credit: Rogelio Ochoa

For those who like to write with music playing in the background, a writing playlist can be the perfect thing to jumpstart creativity. The playlist can include anything from mood music to songs that make you think of the characters or certain situations in your story. Not everyone can write well while listening to music or any other kind of noise, so making a playlist isn’t a necessity, but for many it can be helpful for focusing. Music can tune out all the outside distractions and help you focus on setting the right mood and tone for your story. Plus, a good writing playlist can be used all year round, not just for NaNoWriMo. If you feel comfortable, share your playlist with others. You just might inspire someone else as well.

Skip To The Good Part

If you happen to be stuck and unsure of where to go in your novel, skip ahead. Many of us know where we want the story to go, but we’re unsure of how to get there. Sometimes it can be beneficial to skip ahead to where the action is or go to a part that you can clearly visualize. Writing doesn’t have to be done in order, so it’s always fine to move forward and go back and fill in the details later. Making an outline can be beneficial if you’re skipping around in your novel, just to make sure that you don’t forget anything, but it’s not a requirement. While skipping around can be helpful to get through creative blocks, don’t forget you’ll still eventually have to go back and fill in those mundane details you were trying avoid. So while it might be a good occasional solution, constantly doing this might not be helpful in the long run.

And If All Else Fails… Start Over

Though the month of November is almost half over, there is still time to start over if you’re absolutely stuck. Sometimes you start a story and realize you’re not really getting anywhere with it or things just aren’t coming out correctly. Maybe you’re getting inspired to write something else entirely, or maybe what you’re writing would make a better novella than a novel, and you don’t want to force it. Whatever the reason might be, there is still enough time to start your novel over again. Of course that will make your daily word count even higher, and you’ll have to work extra hard to complete your novel on time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. If you’re determined to make your goal and tell your story, you’ll find a way to get in every word by November 30th, no matter what it takes.

Though there is no surefire way to be able to write 50,000 words in one month, every suggestion helps when trying to stay on track and not fall behind. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve competed every year, attempting NaNoWriMo takes lots of hard work, dedication, and focus. Hopefully these tips will help you complete your novel on time and inspire creativity going forward.

Have any tips of your own for completing NaNoWriMo? Feel free to share in the comments!

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2 Comments on “Five Ways to Stay Caught up During NaNoWriMo”

  1. Girlwiththekholedeyes November 15, 2015 at 6:15 am #

    Very helpful! I came to know about it only recently.

  2. deepadileep November 16, 2015 at 3:11 am #

    wow, thanks for letting me know of such an initiative. I would definitely join NaNoWriMo next year.

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