NaNoWriMo Check-In: Advice from Quirk’s Editors
If you're participating in NaNoWriMo this year, you probably have a good amount written at this point! But there's also the dreaded slump that seems to always hit before the finish line. Here's some advice from Quirk's editorial team to keep you going. Remember, you've got this!
Jessica Yang (Editorial Assistant)
By the time you read this blog post, I imagine you're close to hitting that mid-point slump. You've raced past the exciting, Halloween candy-fueled first few days, and now you're in for the long haul. It can be tough pushing through, but it's going to be okay. Just keep writing. Imagine you're a fancy filmmaker shouting "we'll fix it in post!" (Very sorry to any filmmakers. As you can tell, I don't know anything about filmmaking.) Your writing at this point doesn't have to be perfectly crafted or inspired — it just needs to get out there. You can always revise it later. First drafts are just the beginning. Manuscripts often go through an entire journey to get to their final form, so don't let the pressure of getting things right the first time stop you from writing that novel!
Rebecca Gyllenhaal (Assistant Editor)
It's often said, but I think it's true that the greatest barrier most writers face is simply sitting down to write. There's an easy way to trick yourself into overcoming this barrier that sounds counterintuitive, but it works–at least for me! Here it is: make a rule that you have to write a page of anything except for your work-in-progress, every time you sit down to write. You can journal about your day, describe your surroundings, or even begin a letter to a friend. (But don't do any writing for work, or any other kind of writing project that "needs" to get done. That will pull your focus in the wrong direction.) It's much easier to sit down to write if you know you don't have to work on your project; it removes all the pressure. Once you've written a page of anything else, you can—but are not required to—turn to your main project. But you'll probably turn to it, because it'll be a much easier choice than going to it cold. Not only will you have set yourself up to write (sat down, cleared everything else away, acquired your writing tools), but during the warm-up your thoughts will likely begin to turn to your project, and impatience will set in. You may find yourself chafing against the "rule" before you even hit the one-page mark. It sounds so elementary, but this bit of reverse psychology works surprisingly well, by turning my contrarianism into fuel rather than an obstacle. I hope you find the same!
Jess Zimmerman (Editor)
I have not yet tried participating in NaNoWriMo because I can't really settle on an idea—but truly, who said it can't be national (partial) novelS writing month? Certainly my experience with nonfiction is that it's sometimes more productive to write in chunks, even when you don't have a real road map for how you'll connect those chunks up later. Even when you might eventually find that they don't connect, and indeed belong in different projects! I'd encourage anyone who's feeling intimidated or overwhelmed by the scope of the project (including me!) to give yourself permission to start where you are. If you don't have a plot, try writing a few pages about a character or a setting. If you're not sure what to do with that person in that place, switch to something new—another genre, even. Maybe these fragments will amount to something together, maybe one of them will snowball into a whole project of its own, maybe what you'll end up with at the end of the month isn't a novel but a short story collection or a poetry chapbook or, hey, a bunch of fragments. But they won't get a chance to be any of those things if you keep your ideas locked away in your head because they don't feel complete or worthy.