Since today is a nice even number, thanks to our decimal system, as well as a nice even fraction of the month, I thought it a great time to check in on that frantic writing beast that is NaNoWriMo.
This is a pretty critical time in the life of a NaNoer. There are three main possibilities of where you are at, and I’ll look at each of those and the way forward.
1. You’re behind (<16,667 words). This may range from lagging a bit (say, 15kish) to “oh gods what am I doing” (say, 0) or anywhere in between. You’re probably frustrated about being behind. You thought you were going to slay the great NaNo beast, and instead it’s kind of kicking your ass. You may be thinking about giving up—you may have given up already! But in any case, things are not hopeless! Even if you are in our “oh gods” category, you could hit 50k by writing 2,500 words a day from here on out. That is completely doable. Besides, chances are you’ve written more than zero words, so 2,500 per day is the absolute, worst case scenario. Now let’s say that you’re in the lagging category, sitting right around 15k words. This could be a potentially more dangerous zone, believe it or not. You’re only 1 day of words behind. There is absolutely plenty of time to catch up—and you know it. So stop telling yourself that you’ll catch up later. Remember, the end of November tends to be busier than the beginning for a lot of people. Catch up now. No more excuses, you are within striking range!
2. You’re right on track (16,000-17,000 words). Good job! You likely have a schedule and a plan and are sticking to it. Maybe you hit exactly 1,667 every day and are chugging along. Maybe you’re a bit more erratic, but every few days you make sure you hit that goal line. Maybe you just had one really good day on November 1! In any case, you’re on track. Keep doing what you’re doing, but beware of burnout. You haven’t left yourself any margin, so you need to be good about sticking to your plan/schedule. But don’t worry too much, pat yourself on the back, and keeping NaNoing strong.
3. You’re ahead (>16,667 words). Congratulations! You’ve been a whirlwind of writing for the past 10 days. Maybe you want to finish early enough to enjoy Thankgsiving pie in peace. Maybe your personal goal is >50k. Maybe you’re just so in love with your new novel that it demands to be written and you must comply. You probably don’t need much advice, but I’ll just caution you against resting on your laurels. Building up a buffer so that you can enjoy a weekend off is great, but when that weekend stretches to 2 weeks…just remember, you haven’t won until 50k! (I mean, officially. I think anyone who participates has won!)
So there we have it. No matter if you’ve written 0 words or 49,999 words, your November writing adventure can end in that elusive win—or not. It’s up to you, and I have full faith!
As a bonus, here is a pep talk I made a couple years ago, in case that sort of thing helps you. Happy NaNoing!