One third done, gone, finito, into the books, as it were, pun intended. That’s where we are with NaNoWriMo. If you’re behind, on pace, or ahead of the game, I have some ideas about what to do with today’s writing push.
Ahead of Day 10’s wordcount pace (16,666 words)—Congratulations, you’re on fire, writer person! Go back and look at your outline. If you didn’t start with an outline, write down all of the characters you’ve invented thus far and draw a relationship map for all of them. Is there anything that you notice that you missed previously? The deeper you can explore any patterns or histories between your characters, the more they’ll come alive as you get through your first draft. You may even spot a new plot point or two you haven’t considered. This is when outlines can really enhance your first pass through the manuscript. And since you’re already ahead of the word count, you have time for some back story work, and you’ll appreciate the help as soon as you feel stuck, should that happen later down the road.
On pace with the word count—So far you’ve been keeping up with with the pace of writing, and maybe it’s stressing you out, like treading water against a current. Spend some time today before you sit down to write, and just think about what you like in this story. If there’s a scene coming up you can’t wait to get to, identify what it is about that moment that is so appealing, and just enjoy it for a bit. Change up your writing music, or whatever beverage is at your side, get okay with shaking things up a little. It’s good to infuse new life into your work-in-progress, even when everything is going fairly well. And after taking a step back about your manuscript, dig in and for today, don’t worry about keeping up the pace. Just write.
Behind the word count pace—Sometimes for me during Nano, this is the best place to be in of these three possibilities. I’m a writer with nothing to lose. I’m not writing for a month-long contest, I’m writing for the love of this particular story. It’s a good way to detach from the franticness that I can feel during November, and get back to basics. What is the story, why this narrator, who is it for, why am I telling it? I’ve gone from 4,000 words behind pace to 2,000 ahead in a single day because I found a heck of a writing groove, or I simply got to the part of the tale that had been pressing upon me the whole time to be written. With one novel I realized only on day 12 that this was the real beginning of the book. Chucking out the first 6 chapters felt like tearing off my own arm, but it made the manuscript worlds better, and I wound up writing for 75,000 more words anyway (in December and January). It’s ultimately not about banging out 1,666 words per day, but about finishing the draft. Don’t tell Chris Baty I said that.