Remember that one time I missed my exit on the way to work because I was busy talking to myself? Yeah. It happened again.
Not for a lack of effort to keep myself on track. I counted those blasted signs like I was working my way to midnight on New Year’s Eve. And somehow—perhaps by fate of greater gods—I still missed my exit. Somehow, even though I paid strict attention to numbers, I still lost count.
Doesn’t that remind you of NaNoWriMo?
You spend all sorts of time staring at the word count tracking graph, and somehow, someway, from some act of fate, you fall behind. Maybe it’s only a smidgen. Maybe it’s a boatload the size of Noah’s ark. Maybe you’re ahead of the game (in which case: congrats, and you suck. Not that I’m bitter or anything).
Unlike last time I missed my exit, I recovered with more grace (I got to work only five minutes later than I’d planned) but with considerably less beef jerky than last time.
If nothing else is to be learned from this experience, it’s the lesson of recovering somewhat gracefully.
If you lose track of numbers like I do, then you just have to keep working, avoid flatlining, and follow these steps to catch back up:
Maybe your graph looks like mine:
1. Don’t stop writing.
- Whatever you do, don’t just give up.
- Don’t flatline.
- No matter how far you’ve come, you have put words to page and produced more than what you had before.
- Any progress is good, whether it’s a couple thousand words or tens of thousands.
2. Try to catch up (sprint!).
- If you’ve fallen a few hundred words behind, or even a thousand or so, you can always pick a day to sit down and race forward like a train at full speed.
- It’s like sprinting. Find some time to be a hermit, and type/write with furious fingers!
- For example, I’m more than three thousand words behind right now, but I’ll be damned if I don’t sit down to try to make some magic happen (fingers crossed).
3. Increase the words per day.
- Catching up can be daunting. Sometimes it seems absolutely implausible to write 3300 words in a day (which is about how much you’d have to write if you missed a day).
- In the face of a mountain of words, it’s easy to want to give up. But there’s a handy solution, offered by the NaNoWriMo site itself.
- Now, I could write 3719 words today in order to catch up (based on the long drive home for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I doubt it).
- OR I can take a gander at the handy dandy data list to the right of the graph:
Aside from the alarming data (5 days remaining!? I won’t finish until Dec. 3?!!), there is some comfort to find here:
- The last row tells you how many words to write each day in order to finish on time.
- I bet 2,078 words per day seems better than writing over three thousand! After all, 2,000 is only 333 words more than the 1667 words required today.
4. Be okay with finishing in December (or even later).
- As shown in the Nano data, it will give you your approximate end date if you continue at your current pace.
- It’s better late than never! Instead of giving up on November as national novel writing month, embrace the spirit of the venture: to write a novel! If you don’t finish on time, so what?
- Personally, I might successfully get to 50,000 words by the end of this month. However, that doesn’t mean my book is finished. The goal is to write 50,000 of a novel, not to write a book exactly that long. So you might end up writing well into December.
- The first time I did NaNoWriMo, I wrote 50k in a month, success! And then I continued writing through December, and tacked on another 20k to finish the book (MISTE) by the time January rolled around.
- On the crazier side of that coin, last year I did Nano, and again fought my way to success. Then I did Camp Nanowrimo, tacked on another 50k. And now the book, Echo, is over 160,000 words long, and still not finished.
5. Just keep writing, even if it’s only a few hundred words per day.
- No matter if the outlook says you’ll finish in days or months or years, you’ve started on a journey to writing a book.
- That means that if you can find the story that speaks to you, and if you can find the dedication to the craft, you will finish.
- You will write a book and be victorious.