The Weekly Breakdown for Surviving NaNoWriMo

Week 1 you’re rolling right along. You’re maintaining the suggested word count, and feeling confident you’ll finish ahead of schedule. This is a great feeling, and I encourage you to keep going.

Week 2 arrives, and you still have a lot of steam. You plug away, still making that word count, but suddenly, it’s become a struggle. Don’t worry. Every other person doing NaNo feels the same thing (except your friend Joan. She is still going at full speed. She’s the exception. Ignore her.) Even with your brilliant outline, the little things around you begin to distract you. It’s become harder to meet the daily word count. For the first time since you began the project, you are questioning your sanity. You no longer have the same confidence that you can finish on time. You put your muse to the test though, and as the week ends, you’ll start getting back into your groove. And then…

Week 3 brings a whole new set of challenges… your story is running out of gas, your family is more demanding, or better yet, YOU are cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year. Whatever the reason, Week 3 is always the roughest week of NaNo despite seeing the fruit of your wages.

You start questioning everything… Do I need to write every detail or can I skim over and jump to the next part? Is this too graphic? Should I key it down some? Do I need to add visuals to every cellphone conversation? How do I get from where she is now to where she is going? What’s happening with this character? Where is my story going from here? Do I really have to kill off this sidekick?


For me, I’ve always had a bit of trouble with the middles and tying everything all together. I’m trying hard to write it well the first time, and that’s kind of defeating the literary abandon that is the NaNoWriMo purpose too.

Week 3 doubts

This novel writing stuff really is tough, especially for a short story writer. Maybe I should go back to the one scene at a time writing that has become so familiar to me through the art of flash fiction writing. It seems to move a little easier that way, leaving room for fabulous cliffhangers that make me think. Returning to write another scene becomes easier.

Part of it is because I haven’t been motivated to write. Some days I will write nothing, then spend the entire next day burning out in chunks of 4,000 words. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as a whole, but for NaNo? Here’s where I remind myself to stop looking at that word count graph.

Stay motivated

My story has moved a lot further than where it was when I started. That’s what I need to focus on while I wait for my muse to stay inspired as that turkey turns golden brown in the oven and the potatoes soften enough for me to mash them.

Maybe she’ll even stick around during the dreaded “company entertainment” that will be forced on me next week. You’ll have to check back to find out.

Surviving @NaNoWriMo by the week. #amwriting #nanowrimo #writingadvice #writerslife Click To Tweet

So, tell me, my fellow Wrimos…

What is the hardest part of writing these 50,000 words for you? How is your planning coming together? How will you keep yourself motivated?

24 Replies to “The Weekly Breakdown for Surviving NaNoWriMo”

    1. I think you’ll ace it, but it is time consuming. My story won’t be finished at the end of the month, so I’m looking at a bit longer on working on this, but I’m okay with that too.

  1. You know, I actually have a little insight to this bit! (Amazing what you pick up along the way, isn’t it?)
    I read once early in my blogging/writing adventure that your story, book, ebook, product, WHATEVER will come out of the first draft looking like a block of Swiss cheese. All in all, it will be a product, and it very well may look/taste good; but to make it great, you go back and start filling in those holes. Some will be large, some small, but you just have to keep filling in the gaps and holes until it’s whole.
    Just work on your product—your “cheese”—and when you are done, simply fill it in. I know it will become something great for you. Good job. Keep it up!
    (Kinda funny how many cheese references are in this conversation… lol!)

    1. I never knew you were so cheesy! :)~
      I know that it’s not supposed to be perfect, and I’m okay with that. I was just hoping that it would be complete. I’d rather cut some stuff out then have to go back and add stuff in (exception being prettying it up) and this is where my issues lie. It must be yet another magnification of the old age onset of OCD that the women in my family seem to develop. LOL.
      Thanks for your support, Brandon. It means a lot!

      1. Wow… I got nothin’ for that one… lol!
        And keep in mind that the way Nano does this challenge is only to get the larger chunk out of the way. It’s not a polishing challenge. Most people won’t get past the first few pages, much less 50K word count. Be proud.
        Now the editing and polishing? Um… yeah. About that… lol!

        1. I hope you realize that you will be in my list of beta readers. Expect it. Only this time, it will come a word document you can download to your reader if necessary. Ha. Yeah, I’ve learned a few tricks since last year. 😉

  2. I have been feeling so much of the same about my project. I’m breathing a sigh of relief to know I’m not the only one. Of course, you’re much farther along than I am. But, I’m really pleased with myself that I’ve gotten as far as I have. And that’s the point, right?
    I’m one of those one scene at a time writers. I just keep hoping I can manage to meld them all together some where down the road.

    1. It will all come together for you. I will admit its hard to fill in than it is to expand, but at the end of it all it is worth it.

  3. I’m feeling much the same way. I didn’t write a single word all weekend. It was a little frustrating but I just didn’t find the moment to sit down and write. Good thing I’m in a similar place as you: slightly ahead of schedule so a day or two of nothing won’t kill me.

    1. no it won’t kill you. If this is the first time you’ve felt this way during the whole NaNo process, you should be okay. For me, it’s not okay, since I know that come Thursday (Thanksgiving), I will have 0 time to right and Friday is looking at possibly some shopping, so another wasted day, LOL.
      I’ll be okay. I have enough still on my blue print that it would kill a couple 1,000 words if I needed to add them early. I’m almost out of blueprint though.

  4. Well, I already passed 50k. I’m more concerned with finishing the story as a whole than just the segment for NaNo. The hardest part of the whole thing is probably keeping together a coherent narrative with only the bare bones of planning. I always hate to edit my stories and find plot holes. >.<

    1. Oh you know exactly what I am talking about then. I dislike holes intensely too. I’d rather go overboard and tell every single detail rather than leave a hole. LOL.
      Congratulations again on finishing NaNo successfully. I’ll keep motivating you to finish yours if you’ll do the same for me at the end of the month.

  5. You hit lots of nails of the head with your description actually. I read it while my mind said, yes, yes, yes! 🙂
    Trying everything together and allowing there to be extremely rough edges is difficult .I decided early on that I would do without all the ‘extras’ which add life to scene – like settings, body-language, he said, she said etc. This is bare-bones writing, unless my muse gets all excited and stuff just spills on the page, which has happened a few times.
    Stick with it. One thing I did which helped me accrue word-count and push me through the boring bits; write an exciting scene then go back to the boring stuff when you feel more motivated. I did it for an action scene, the finale and my first ever sex scene. Certainly woke up my muse 😀
    Good luck 😀 XX

    1. Nice tip!! Absolutely. I do this from time to time too then add it to my “blueprint” for inserting in its proper place later.

  6. I remember NaNo! I used to stress over not completing X number of words that day, It would honestly annoy the crap out of me. Then after awhile I resigned to failure, and I turned over in my bed that night, and woke up inspired! It’s strange how things work out that way. After I thought I wouldn’t make the word count, I suddenly did because the pressure was off.
    I’m not doing it this year, and I doubt I’ll do NaNo again. It was fun when i did though.

    1. Yes, I’m trying not to let the daily word goal stress me out. I seem to be fairing better when I skip a day here and there and “refuel”. I have no doubt that should you ever take on NaNo again, what spills from your brain will be a bestseller.

  7. I know exactly what you mean. I have never written anything more than a 2,000 word short fiction so now that I’m hovering at the 17,000 mark there’s a whole lot more to consider!
    I actually started NaNo a week late, and then my husband had a 100km marathon which I supported him in, so I don’t think I’m going to make it for the final – but I intend to finish to the word limit and beyond as an exercise.
    So kudos to you for being so well on track!

    1. You never know. I hope a huge burst of inspiration comes your way and you surprise yourself. There’s plenty of time still.

  8. I passed the 43K mark and I’m surprised how easy it’s coming. Of course that’s because I include everything. Seriously, it reads more like a movie script. It’s okay, though. When I get to the editing process, I’d rather have too much than too little to work with.
    I also think it’s easier to take a day or two off and then pump out a bunch of words in one sitting. Some days I’m just not feeling it or the kids aren’t having it. This is my first NaNo and I will definitely do it again. I’m learning a lot about myself as a writer.
    Good luck!

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