Nano Day 15 Check-In // 7 Tips for Getting Un-Stuck

Copy of Hello Preptober!-3

Hello everyone!

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.)

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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?

My Progress

As of Thursday November 15, 6:30AM Pacific Time, I am officially at 38476 words!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.Β 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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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 πŸ™‚

Pssst, more self-care tips in my previous post!

7. Believe in your novel!

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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 canΒ tell your story as well as YOU.

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For all the Wrimos out there, how is Nano treating you? Do you find it hard to write the middle section (like me?) What are your tips for getting un-stuck? Do you ever skip ahead? Where and when do you write the most effectively? Any self-care tips?

33 thoughts on “Nano Day 15 Check-In // 7 Tips for Getting Un-Stuck

  1. Margaret @ Weird Zeal says:

    Wow I am amazed by your progress!! Good job! I’m at about 26k and I still feel like I’m at the beginning of the story whoops πŸ˜… But this is all such wonderful advice! Especially the skipping around bit – I was feeling stuck in a boring part yesterday so I just skipped on to the part I was excited to write!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you Margaret πŸ™‚ That’s awesome that skipping ahead is helping for you. One of these days I might feel courageous enough to give it a try!
      It’s awesome to see that you’ve been keeping ahead of the word count goals! Good job! I absolutely feel the same way. Although I am supposed to be more than halfway through my story based on my word count, I feel like I have just started LOL :’)

      Like

  2. Marie says:

    SOPHIE this is such a great post, I love all of your advice so much! I’m in the middle part just as well, well, almost there, slowly getting there actually and it’s coming together, but also my fingers somehow can’t get faster to that climax I’m looking forward to, haha. So I love all of your tips very much! I never tried handwriting because I am… too slow, I type way quicker and I couldn’t get my ideas all down fast enough, but I’d have to try that for brainstorming for sure πŸ™‚
    I’m so happy NaNo is going well for you, look at that gorgeous graphic haha you’re doing amazing! Keep on writing! xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you so much Marie ❀ I've been watching your word counts on the Nano website and it's been amazing to see your progress!! Looks like you are slightly ahead of the game now right? πŸ™‚
      It's great to hear that your story is coming together! Sounds like you are getting close to the climax of your story? In this case you are farther along in your story than I am in mine haha πŸ™‚
      It is counterintuitive that handwriting is actually faster for me. I think when I type, I am more likely to second-guess myself and go back to fix my sentences or insert a paragraph. While when I handwrite, I know that there is a limit to how much I can edit, so it helps to shut down my inner critic for a moment πŸ™‚ I do tend to do some editing later when I am transcribing though!
      Thank you for your encouragement as always Marie ❀ Happy writing to you as well!! I am so excited to hear more about your WIP πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marie says:

        I am… well I’m right on the NaNo word count right now, actually, haha. I’m definitely getting closer to the climax right now, but to be honest I have no idea whether or not I’m doing this thing right haha. But I’m doing it haha πŸ™‚
        Ohhhhh okay, that’s a great thing! I’m not a big editor myself so I don’t have that issue, but yeah I guess it’s better to hand write every now and then for you then πŸ˜€
        Happy writing!! ❀️❀️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Yes!!! I see that you’ve been meeting the word count goals which is awesome! I remember in the beginning of the month, you seemed hesitant about Nanowrimo, but look at how far you’ve come!!! πŸ˜€
        That’s awesome that you’re coming towards the climax of the novel! Isn’t that a super exciting part to write!? I’d say just go where your heart and your words take you and write what excites you. You can’t go wrong with that πŸ˜€
        I didn’t have the chance to write much these past few days since life just got pretty busy haha, but I’m hoping to catch up this week when I have a break from work πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Marie says:

        I’m really really glad that I ended up doing it – I feel motivated to write every day and it’s been really positive to work regularly again.
        IT IS SUCH AN EXCITING PART to write, honestly I just can’t wait. it’s the best part of the book for me, I love these moments πŸ˜‚
        I hope you’ll be able to catch up and that everything goes well, I think you’re kind of ahead so you’re all good πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        I’m glad that you’re happy about deciding to do Nanowrimo! That’s great that you’re motivated to write everyday! I can definitely feel your excitement now that you are in a critical part of your novel πŸ˜€
        Haha yeah, even though I am ahead word-count wise I think my plot is moving slowly because I’ve written some scenes that don’t add to the plot. Now I am thinking more critically about whether the next scene is necessary before I write it. I’m hoping to reach the climax of my novel by the end of this week πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Wow your progress so far is incredible Sophie! I have no doubt you’ll be able to finish this WIP before the end of the year and before everything that you’ve got going on at the end of this year/next year takes over your life. I get what you mean about having good and bad days, I’ve had a few bad days recently which have just pushed me behind on my goal but now I’m back in the good days and ready to catch up. πŸ˜€
    These are all great tips as well, when it comes to writing and getting un-stuck the best thing for me is either powering through or skipping ahead. I feel like a lot of the time when I don’t want to write it’s my procrastination talking, the second I start writing I find it so easy to get in the zone and I never want to stop, and yeah I’ve said before I’m a mood writer so I write what I want to, when I want to. That’s why skipping ahead works for me.
    NaNo is clearly going great for you, I can’t wait to read more about your progress (hopefully) soon. πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you Beth ❀ πŸ™‚ When it comes to writing, some days are better than others. I find that it becomes particularly hard on days when life is busy! I also slow down when I struggle with my characters and my story. I saw your word count shoot up just today! Sounds like you're out of the thick of it now? Hope writing continues to go well πŸ™‚
      I absolutely agree! Sometimes it is about overcoming the initial inertia of not wanting to write. After a few paragraphs when I am into the zone, it is much easier to continue πŸ™‚ Haha yes our discussion about mood writing and skipping ahead is what inspired me to write that into this post! I will have to try this one day when I'm feeling stuck (still need to work up the courage!)
      Happy writing for you too ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        That’s all right. πŸ™‚ ❀ Yeah it's the same with anything isn't it? I've had bad blogging days and bad reading days so it makes sense there'll be bad writing days too. Definitely out of the thick of it, I'm aiming to make sure my word count keeps shooting up for the rest of November! πŸ˜€
        Exactly, as long as I get past the first few chapters I tend to find some kind of rhythm and then it's just easy to keep on going. Oh that's nice to hear, and yes I'd recommend it because it really helps me when it comes to NaNo for sure.
        Thanks. πŸ™‚ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Yeah, definitely πŸ™‚ We’re all human so there are some days that just don’t feel as effective as others. I just had a few not-so-great writing days, but I have this week off so I’m hoping to do some catching up πŸ™‚
        Happy writing, and looking forward to hearing more about Death Born πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    WOW! Great work Sophie! The middle is the super hard part… I try to think about what can my characters experience that would be fun for readers when I’m stuck. Hahaha, it normally means something torturous. I love your advice to switch mediums and to power through. Sometimes I just keep writing and try new things. β™₯️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hahaha yes it is super fun to give our characters a challenge or make them suffer a bit more! Sometimes I do this without even knowing how my characters will get out of the situation!
      Yes! I like to switch things up and try new things once in a while. It keeps things fresh and interesting πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Sieran Lane says:

    Hey Sophie,

    Yeah I’ve often heard of the sagging middle phenomenon. For some reason, I don’t find the middle harder to write than the beginning or end… Maybe the end is hardest for me, because I have to force myself to conclude the story xD , and I have to find a suitable spot to end on.

    As you know, I am a complete pantser, so even if I think a certain plot problem seems hopeless, some solution ALWAYS presents itself eventually. It’s like a magical process. Earlier I told you about a couple of mine who I thought were hopeless– honestly I was thinking it would be better if they found different partners. πŸ˜‚ My lack of confidence in this couple was mostly due to a book I read, on attachment theory. Their couple dynamic seemed to be the very challenging type described in the book. The book authors say that this type of couple is not impossible, but both partners will have to give up on some deep emotional needs, because their partner won’t be able to satisfy that need due to their attachment style. That sounded quite depressing and unromantic to me.

    But… I continued writing the story and suddenly the solution popped up like magic. πŸ˜‚ And I thought: “Of course!” It is not the perfect solution, but this is okay because I do not believe in perfection. The solution just needs to be good enough, and then the couple can go from there and develop their relationship. πŸ˜€

    Yeah I agree that there needs to be a sense that the plot (main plot or subplot) is moving forward in every scene, or else it will feel like a stagnant moment. I do not deny that there are some very popular, very famous books that got away with such stagnant scenes. But I usually find these static scenes boring…

    I make sure that my scenes are always progressing the main or subplot, but sometimes I feel like I’m branching off into too many subplots and introducing too many characters. Maybe I should be more concise and omit mention of some of these side plots and characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hey Sieran!!
      I remember you mentioning before that you enjoy writing the middle section of your book, so your thoughts on this topic don’t surprise me haha πŸ™‚
      I am always amazed that you are a pantser! Though I have a loose outline, usually towards the end I do find new and fantastical ways to hinder my hero’s success, however you are right that in most cases my hero does come up with a way to overcome it! In my current novel outline, I am still not sure how things will play out at the end, and I am waiting for inspiration to hit me when I get there haha πŸ™‚
      That’s great that your characters’ relationship was able to work out πŸ™‚
      I am all for subplots! I think that subplots are important for developing our characters and they can make the story more interesting as a whole. I once wrote a novel without any subplots and it was short and concise (~60K words) but I found that the characters lacked dimension.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. meandinkblog says:

    Well done on your word count that’s amazing— *sends applause your way*
    I can’t believe it is the middle of November either πŸ˜‚ These are great tips– I definitely find hand writing a book can actually be less distracting so can increase by word count. And the power through bit is good advice– just write a paragraph then another and before you know it you written quite a lot. I have actually written parts of my book by jumping all around the different scenes– beginning, middle and end. I thought it would stress me out but it was actually quite productive as I got to right the scenes I was most excited about. It’s definitely good to have a solid chapter outline so you know where it fits in with the story– what has happened etc. But you can always fix the little gaps in editing if anything changes along the way.
    Best of luck for the rest of November– you are doing great πŸ’›

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you ❀
      I agree about handwriting. Now I've been handwriting my scenes whenever I can. I find that I can focus much better and I have less of those "stare blankly at the page" moments haha. I think I also like the physical feeling of writing something down πŸ™‚
      That's cool that you skip around in your novel! I keep thinking that I should give it a try one of these days but still haven't worked up the courage haha πŸ™‚ That is a good point that editing can help to smooth things out later. The next time I am stuck, I'll keep that in mind.
      Thank you ❀ Happy writing to you too πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • meandinkblog says:

        You’re welcome πŸ’›
        Yes definitely. Me too– it feels really nice and I love the way it looks at the end. Some times my hand hurts after though– I am way too heavy handed πŸ˜‚
        Haha yeah you should try it to see what it is like and if you like it. If you are organised in what you have written and what you have left to write it isn’t too stressful 😊
        Thank you very much ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Haha yes, my hand starts to hurt after writing for a long time, so usually I end up alternating between handwriting and typing πŸ™‚
        So far I’ve had to go back and add scenes that I realize I needed to write. The hard part is connecting it to the scenes before and after haha. But you are very right that these can all be addressed in the editing stage!
        I remember that you are doing Nanowrimo as well. How is that going for you? πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • meandinkblog says:

        Yes that’s a good idea. 😊 Yes it can be hard to connect them as all the small details need to be consistent etc.
        NaNoWriMo is going ok for me but I kind of started 3 other things so my actual word count for my original project is only at 8000 so I haven’t done it right. But I have been writing most days. Next year I will do it properly *fingers crossed* πŸ˜‚ thanks for asking πŸ’›

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        8000 words is all right! I’d say it is a success if Nano inspired you to write more than you usually would. Writing most days is an accomplishment as well! Yes there is next year, and don’t forget about camp Nanowrimo if you’re looking for a similar writing challenge! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • meandinkblog says:

        Yes I am trying to focus on the positive πŸ˜‚ yes I have very much enjoyed writing most day. Yes I would love to do NaNoWriMo properly one year and not get side tracked by other things πŸ˜‚ oh yes I forgot about camp NaNoWriMo 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        That’s great to hear that you’re still in love with your WIP! Sometimes life gets in the way, but hope that you’ll be able to find time to continue writing and eventually finish your novel πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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