Wow, is it me or does this moment feel… surreal!? On one hand, I canNOT believe that we are already halfway through November, because it felt just like yesterday when I was still telling everyone how excited and nervous I was for Nanowrimo to start! On the other hand, I felt like it’s been forever since my last check-in post (which was actually just last week haha.)
So yes, conflicted feelings :’)
How is everything going? We are 15 days in, which means we are HALFWAY there (Eeeeekkk!) Hanging in there everyone? Still alive? Eaten and slept?
For me, the rollercoaster continues. I’ve had good days and bad days, days when the words were flowing and days when all I wanted to do was lie in bed and sleep. (And I did! It felt good!) That’s part of being a writer, right?
As of Thursday November 15, 6:30AM Pacific Time, I am officially at 38476 words!
Which is kind of crazy. I know. I’ve been super keen. There are days (particularly on weekends) when I just sit at my desk and write, sit in a cafe and write, then sit on my bed and write. Lol. Here’s the graph.
Good news is, it looks like I’m almost there right? There’s not much to go until I am at 50K! I am happy with my progress. I have NEVER progressed through Nanowrimo so quickly. Bad news is…
Well, I’m very verbose. As I mentioned in October, my goal for Nanowrimo is not only to reach 50K words but also finish my novel. That’s because starting December and going into next year, with Christmas and wedding planning, I don’t see myself having much time to write at all. So I really, desperately need to finish this novel this month.
And, well… You know the three-act structure? (Beginning, middle, end?) Here is where I am at right now.
So! In summary, I am very happy with how things are going, although I will have to start writing much more concisely from now on!
7 Tips for Getting Un-Stuck in the Mighty Middle
Let’s face it. Writing a novel is hard work. Making a commitment to write 50K words in 30 days is no easy feat. We’ve dove into the deep end of the pool, writing more words than we’ve ever written in such a short period of time. We’ve gotten at least a few solid chapters down. Bonus points if we are in love with our story and our characters.
Now we are 15 days in… And if you are like me, I find the middle of a novel to be the hardest to write. That’s because at the beginning of the novel, I know exactly what is going to happen to set up the story and I am just SO excited to begin. Towards the end of the novel, I also get SUPER hyped to write that Epic Plot Twist and the Final Show-Down. But the middle?
The middle part of a novel is hard, because we have to figure out the sequence of events from A to B. Sometimes it isn’t straightforward- We might get bogged down trying to fit plot points together. Or we might just get bored because the plot isn’t moving forward. AND, when it is the middle of Nanowrimo, and we’ve been writing like madmen, we are are just tired, okay?!
Today, I’m brainstorming some tips to help us get un-stuck when we’re feeling a bit lost in the middle section. Some of these have to do with our novels themselves, while others relate more to the writing process. Hope that you find these to be helpful!
1. Move the plot forward.
If a part of our novel is boring for us to write, it will likely boring for our future readers as well. My experience with boring scenes (and believe me I’ve written many boring scenes!) is that they aren’t moving the plot forward. If a scene is boring us, is it essential to the plot? And if not, can it be omitted?
If you have an outline for your novel, think about what scenes absolutely have to happen to make the plot move forward. It is likely that these pivotal scenes are high-tension and also exciting to write!
If don’t have an outline, consider pushing your MC out of their comfort zone and putting some obstacles in their way! *** Pssst, this is from a non-pantser so please take my words with a grain of salt ***
2. Skip ahead.
It’s possible that our next scene is necessary, but we find it difficult for another reason: Perhaps we are writing a POV of a character we find less relatable, or perhaps it is a type of scene that we are less comfortable or experienced with writing. If you have a definite idea of the scenes that will happen later on in the novel which excite you more, by all means, skip ahead and come back later!
I also personally haven’t tried this approach, although I’ve heard from other writers who swear by it. Skipping ahead terrifies me, however, if push comes to shove, I will give it a go!
3. Try writing at a different time or a different location.
Firstly I do believe that we each have preferred times of day or locations that make us feel the most creative. If we are not feeling inspired, maybe it has to do with our surroundings (perhaps it is too loud, or too quite), or at a time that when we don’t feel the most productive.
Secondly, I believe that our physical environment have a subtle impact on what goes on in our brains. Perhaps changing our environment and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones can give our brain a little jolt of excitement and inspiration that we wouldn’t have otherwise.
If you are used to writing at night time, how about giving morning writing a go? If you typically write at your desk, why not try going to a cafe?
4. Try a different mode of writing (handwriting vs. typing.)
Chances are, we are comfortable with one and not the other. However, if you are feeling stuck, why not try another mode of writing? If you are used to typing out your novels (like me), give the good old pen and paper a chance. If you are used to writing scenes out by hand, consider typing a scene out!
Personally, I have been typing my novels ever since my first Nanowrimo 10+ years ago. It wasn’t until I’ve seen other writers with notebooks and pens when I decided to give handwriting a go. I thought writing by hand would slow me down. Turns out that I am less distracted when I write by hand and I actually write much faster, even when factoring in the time it takes to transcribe my writing onto the screen.
5. Power through.
Let’s just face it. Some days we just aren’t feeling the flow of the words. It could be a pivotal scene in our novel, it could even be a character POV that should excite us, but somehow we just can’t get into the scene. Well, in the true Nano spirit, I’d say to power on through. Write that first sentence, first paragraph, first page of the day and see where it takes you.
The reason I say this is because there are some days when I just don’t feel like writing and the first few sentences and paragraphs are really, really hard. But it turns out that all it takes is to push through the first bit, and then I hit my groove again.
6. But know when to rest.
Maybe it is a long day and we are just exhausted. Maybe we’ve stretched our mind and our imagination too much and our brains just need a break. If you’re tired, hungry, or feeling burnt out, then you, my friend, need to fuel up on some food, sleep, and maybe curl up with a book or TV show. Also, make a promise to write more tomorrow 🙂
7. Believe in your novel!
Do you ever lose faith in your novel? Is there ever that voice at the back of your head telling you that your novel is no good? In my experience, this inner critic tends to rear its big ugly head right about now that we are at the half-way point. And you know what? We are NOT going to listen to that inner critic.
Sure, we’ve probably got some plot kinks, character consistency issues, spelling/grammar errors, show vs tell moments, but that’s okay. All first drafts have problems, mine, yours and probably Shakespeare’s. We’re going to worry about all of those things in the editing stage. The most important part is to power through it all and our first drafts done.
Wherever you are on your Nanowrimo journey, whether you are meeting/exceeding your word count targets, or just happy to write a bit every day, or haven’t looked at your novel since day 2, keep going and don’t give up. Remember that your novel is awesome, and only YOU can write it. No one else can tell your story as well as YOU.