3 Things to do if You’re Behind in the Last Week of NaNo

We’re in the final stretch of NaNoWriMo, and I’ve been seeing a lot of people who are looking at where they are and are…less than happy with their progress. They’re finding motivation in this last week to push forward and catch the rest of the way up to still win. And that’s awesome! If you’re in that camp, I am absolutely cheering for you to get it done.
I also don’t want you to burn yourself out. I did that during my first Nano – I made a huge push in the end, wrote almost ten thousand words in a single day to make it, and afterwards didn’t write for almost six months. The second time around for NaNo, I paced myself much better, and at the end was able to keep writing throughout December. So, if you’re in that final stretch and trying to keep going, here’s some things to do to make sure you don’t burn out.

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The number one problem any writer faces.

1) Look at your writing schedule and reassess
By this point, you probably have a pretty good idea of how much you can write in a single sitting. Maybe you went into NaNo already knowing this, or maybe you discovered it over the course of the last twenty four days. You also, of course, know exactly how far you are from your 50,000 word goal.
So it’s time to look at your writing schedule again.
Your first question should be simple: how much more time do you need to hit the goal? Take your average words and compare it to your writing time. Do you need another hour a day? Two? More? Get a good estimate. Then ask another question: what can I put aside without hurting myself?
That caveat is important. If you spend three hours a night watching TV, you can probably sacrifice some of that time to finish up. If, on the other hand, you only get an hour a night to watch TV, and that’s the time you use to destress from the day, you shouldn’t sacrifice that time. If it turns out you’re running low on time and getting it done might be too stressful…
2) Redefine the goal

beach-football-goal-94953.jpg
Sometimes, it’s okay to shift the goal posts.

Yes, the whole point of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in a single month. However, it’s also supposed to be fun. It’s a time to come together with other writers and share in the common goal of hitting that word count, but if you’re not going to make it, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, figure out what the goal should be for this last week.
Here’s some thoughts for new goals to have if you’re not going to make it:

  • Hit the 1667 goal every day between now and the end of the month. If you’re coming up short right now, that means you haven’t quite managed that yet. Pushing yourself to do that for a week will help you build confidence for next year, and prove to you that you can do it.
  • Just write every day for the next week. If you’ve been struggling to do this all month, that’s totally understandable. I know I’ve had a few days where my “writing” for the day was just another sentence so I could assure myself I did write something. If you haven’t done that, try doing it for the rest of the month, Again, prove to yourself that you can do it.
  • Stick to your schedule. Maybe this month you’ve had trouble staying within the times you set for yourself. Even pulling that off for a full week can be an accomplishment in and of itself!

Remember, that while the goal of writing for NaNo is to hit 50,000 words, the reason for the goal is to get that feeling of accomplishment. And there’s one more way to get that if the above ideas don’t work for you…
3) Turn your novel into a novella.
Instead of worrying about the actual word count for the remainder of the month, focus on what you’re doing with the story. Is there a way you can wrap up the main plot line in the next seven days?
Why not turn the novel into a novella?

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There’s a reason these are all different lengths.

Novellas typically run between twenty and forty thousand words, well short of the fifty thousand of NaNo. It’s also a much more reasonable goal to hit, especially if you’re not quite there yet. Take some time to look at your outline if you have one. If you don’t have one, maybe now would be a good time to make one. Refocus the story to finish it in the remaining week, bringing it to a satisfying conclusion. If you can pull it off, you’ll still have finished a project.
This even works if you’ve had a really rough month, and you’re running far behind where you wanted to be. Are you only at five thousand words right now? Look to see if there’s a place to have a resolution soon, and congratulations, you have a finished short story!
When it’s time to revise, you can decide if you want to keep it as a novella or expand it out into a full length novel. (I’ll cover that more when I start writing about the revision process). Either way, you can be proud that you’ve completed something. Good luck the next few days!
How’s your NaNo project coming? Feeling comfortable with where you are? Let me know in the comments below!

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