Scott D. Parker
Today marks Day 24 of NaNoWriMo 2018, and you now face the final push to reach 50,000 words in this month. When you come back here next Saturday, it’ll be 1 December. NaNoWriMo will be over. Consider this your last pep talk before we do a recap next week.
So, where are you in your journey to 50,000? Back in 2015, when I successfully completed my first NaNoWriMo, I hit the 50,000 mark on 23 November. True, I hadn’t completed the book--that would only occur on 5 December 2015--but I had crossed the threshold of 50,000. And this respective week was not without challenges.
Back in 2015, when I was writing a first draft, I rarely looked back. I forged ahead, crafting new words. If something occurred to to me, say in chapter 13 that affects something in chapter 7, I made a note in chapter 7 and then I go forward from chapter 13 *as if I had already written the extra stuff in chapter 7*. This way, I always have forward momentum. Later, I’d go back to chapter 7 and insert the new material in chapter 7.
Now, in 2018, I have modified my approach. Based on the process of cycling through the manuscript while remaining in creative voice, advocated by Dean Wesley Smith, in that above scenario, I would go back into chapter 7 as soon as the new idea occurred to me. Then, having planted a seed or a foreshadowing, I then charge ahead with chapter 13 and keep going. I have discovered, through practice, that this works better for me. It also works well for Smith and, well, he’s been working on his craft for forty years, so he knows a thing or two.
Last week, I wrote about a mid-book reset. Now, if you are behind on your word count, the best thing to do is ask yourself a simple question: What is more important: finish the book or finish the 50,000 words in November?
Here’s why. If you can conceivably complete the book by next Friday, then go ahead and get there. If you don’t think you can make that deadline...but do think you can complete the book a few days after 30 November, then make the adjustment. Because, when you get right down to it, the reason you started NaNoWriMo in the first place was to complete a book. The 50,000-word mark was only a trick, a hack, to get many writers started. Your book may only be 45,000. If so, then congrats! You’ve written a book. Your book may actually not be done until you get to 95,000 or more. Your book is your book. Do your adjustments as you see fit.
But this last week of NaNoWriMo 2018 is the final push. You can do it. I did it. Millions of others did, too. Come back next week and we can discuss what to do when you successfully reach your own end goal.