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With a week to go in NaNoWriMo, it’s crunch time. If you aren’t where you expected or want to be in your novel journey, you’ll need to start wrapping up NaNoWriMo. It may take some gearing up to finish your 50,000 by the 30th! NaNoWriMo is intense, but the feeling of accomplishing such a big goal in a short time is worth it. If you’re in need of a pep talk and some tips, we’re here for you!
Wrapping Up NaNoWriMo
1,667 words can feel like a breeze some days, and yet feel like pulling teeth on others. Every year and every story is different too. Some years you may pull ahead for an early lead, but then stall out after a week or two. Other times, you may get off to a rough start, but then hit your stride halfway through November.
Whatever the case this year, you’re almost to the finish line! Whether you’re 500 words or 25,000 words away from winning, it is possible. Keep these four things in mind during the next week:
It Will Feel Scary
Even if you’re only 500 words away from 50,000, the 23rd of November still feels scary. Making the word count goal is only part of NaNoWriMo. If this isn’t a year that you fluffed your way through, you may still feel like your story got away from you. And if you’re thousands of words away from your goal (which you will be, even if you stayed on track!), it can feel terrifying!
Thanksgiving falls right in the home stretch. This alone can make the last week feel impossible. Trying to explain to family that you’re visiting with that you need to write doesn’t always fly. But take heart: you’re not alone!
Take this week to reach out to a writing buddy or accountability partner and ask for moral support. Having someone else in the game with you can help in more ways than you know. Plus, having an excuse to retreat from the holiday madness for an hour is great!
You Don’t Have to Write “The End”
If you aren’t at the point in your plot that you intended to be, that’s okay! You aren’t the first author whose characters get away from them. NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to yield a finished novel. In fact, it almost definitely won’t!
If you’re writing in white-on-white to increase productivity, your manuscript is bound to be riddled with errors. And if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll remember that you might throw out this draft anyways. For a lot of people, NaNoWriMo is more a way to explore an idea for a novel than it is to get publishable results. The experience is worth it to develop that daily writing habit alone!
So if you’re not even close to writing “The End,” don’t despair. As Dory would say if she was a writer, “Just keep writing!” It just means you have an excuse to keep up your writing habit after November.
Shaking It Up Can Make a Difference!
This last week may find you feeling like you don’t want to ever type another word. If you’re feeling burned up, it may be time to shake things up.
You don’t have to have a mind-blowing twist. Throwing an obstacle at your characters can be just as effective. This will make your mind work in a different way, and it will reinvigorate your creative process. See if there are any scene cards that you didn’t end up using or that could go in a different order.
If there isn’t anything you already have or anything that can move, make something up. Write an Everyday Vignette or flash fiction piece as a scene involving your characters. Even if you can’t use it in your novel as it is now, toss it in (with a highlight or something else to remind you that it doesn’t quite belong yet). In a future incarnation of your story, you might realize exactly where it goes. If not, it will at least get your creative juices flowing again, and can help you see new possibilities for your story.
It Is Possible to Catch Up
If you’re so far behind that you can’t see the finish line, wrapping up NaNoWriMo can feel impossible. But it can be done! You just need a plan.
If you haven’t done so already, create a 7 Point Story Structure outline. This will give you a guideline for when you feel lost. It’s time well spent if it gives you the road map that you need to finish.
NaNoWriMo itself will give you an updated daily word count, no math needed! Just go to your Stats page for this year’s novel and you’ll see how many words you need to write each day to win. Here’s where the math comes in:
1) Gauge your words per minute (WPM)
Okay, there’s no math yet. You can just Google (or Swagbucks*!) “words per minute test” and take one of the tests that come up.
2) Calculate your average words per page
Here’s where the math comes in. Go to whatever you’ve written already. Highlight one page at a time (only pages that are full-text; no half pages). Perform a word count (in Google Docs, it’s just Ctrl + Shift + C in Windows) on that selection. Do this for about 5 pages. Add up all those word counts, then divide by the number of pages you checked. This is your average words per page.
3) Calculate your average minutes per page
Just a little more math! Take your average words per page, then divide your WPM into that. If your average words per page is 550, and your WPM is 75, your calculation would be 550/75=7 1/3 minutes per page. That’s theoretical, of course. I would double that, which results in about 15 minutes per page. That accounts for thinking time! Everyone needs thinking time.
4) Calculate your pages per day to win
If you have to write 2,200 words per day to win, that’s 4 pages per day. With the calculations above, that means it should take you about an hour of dedicated writing time. That’s not so bad, right?!
Of course, this doesn’t mean that it will only take you an hour to write. It does give you a starting place for your plan, though! Try setting aside two hours each day for the last week for writing. With a plan in place, it’s a slot easier to catch up and wrap up NaNoWriMo with a win.
With these tips, wrapping up NaNoWriMo in time is completely doable, even if you’re behind! The last week is often the hardest, but it’s worth it. Don’t give up, and remember that by even starting a novel, you’ve done more than a lot of people ever get around to.