Admit that unless you’re one of a very few, you’re behind on your NaNoWriMo project. It’s okay. It happens. And writing isn’t about word count, even if the challenge this month seems to focus on that. Word counts are just to help us get to the real goal: a complete first draft. We’re not going to admit in the month of November that it’s okay to finish with 32,739 words, because then we’re not challenging ourselves enough. For many writers, if we stop pressuring ourselves, we stop writing. And the trick is, every day, get some writing done.
This means we can let up the pressure in other ways or areas: don’t fret that the first draft of each sentence isn’t good enough, because sure, it’s probably not good enough. No need to get stressed about writing the wrong scene, or feeling like a character isn’t working in the story. I’ve yanked characters out of novels and replaced them, merged them, or plum forgotten about them. It can be rude to do the persona non grata act in real life, but when one is creating people from nothing, all’s fair.
It can be a challenge to let go of our preconceived notions about writing and how words make it onto a page. Not everyone is used to writing all of the drivel—I mean, prose—and letting it go as soon as it’s out there. I give myself a wee bit of latitude: if I haven’t finished the sentence and my brain rewrites it as I’m typing, I can hit the backspace and re-engineer the sentence. But that’s it. NaNoWriMo is the act of writing and immediately letting go. That may be threatening for some writers or some kinds of writing, but just think of it as an exercise, and it may get a little easier. Even if you’re not nuts about the scene you just completed, or the sidekick, or the time period, you will handle that later. Take this time to keep punching through and while measuring word counts is not the goal, it’s still a marker of progress.
If you’re ahead of the 1,667-words-a-day pace, congratulate yourself. If you’re behind, don’t dwell on it. Focus on getting lost in your story and seeing it through. And by the end of the day, you’ll have something more than you had last Sunday. And that’s terrific, no matter what comes of the time you spent this week.