If you’re like me, you may find Week 3 of National Novel Writing Month to be the hardest. At this point, your energy is waning, and if you’re already behind, it can feel impossible to get back on track. But don’t give up! Here are my tips for conquering Week 3:
I know, I know. Sleep, during NaNo? Impossible! But sleep is crucial to both your creativity and your productivity (not to mention your health). If you’ve been skipping sleep to hit that NaNo word count, consider going to bed a little earlier this week. If you start each writing session feeling refreshed and awake instead of exhausted, it can make a huge difference.
- Add conflict to your manuscript
Another thing that makes Week 3 especially difficult is that you’re most likely in the difficult middle section of your manuscript. Middles are notoriously challenging, and many writers start to feel discouraged, stuck, or bored at this point. One way to combat this is to take a close look at your scenes and make sure they have enough conflict and tension. Is there some form of conflict in every scene? If not, how can you add it? Keeping the tension in your manuscript high is good for the book, but it will also help keep you engaged in the story as well as your reader.
- Fall in love with your book again
Similarly, this middle stage is the moment when many writers start to feel discouraged by their work. It’s easy to notice all of the problems with your manuscript at this point. The key to getting through it is to remind yourself what you loved about it in the first place. Why did this story speak to you? What is it about this story or these characters that you love? Why were you so eager to write it? Why did you choose this story to tell? Remember how you felt about it back on Day 1, and try to channel that feeling again.
- Try word wars/sprints
Many NaNo writers participate in “word wars” or “word sprints” where they challenge each other to write as many words as possible in a brief span of time. Some writers find this really helpful when trying to get caught up on their NaNo word count. You can find other writers to sprint with via the NaNo forums or the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter account.
And if you don’t really want to sprint with other writers or can’t find anyone to join you, you can still try word sprints on your own. Set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes, and write furiously during that period. Then do it again, but this time try to beat your own count.
(I want to add here that it’s okay if word sprints aren’t for you. They can be a useful tool for some writers, and I’d encourage you to try it if you’d like, but don’t get too hung up on this if it doesn’t work for you. I, personally, have difficulty writing in short bursts, and prefer longer writing sessions where I can really immerse myself in the draft without worrying about my word count until the end. Word sprints might not work for you either, and that’s okay! But many writers do like them, so I wanted to include this tip in case it’s helpful to some of you.)
- Take a mental break
Writing so much in such a short period can be taxing and stressful. By Week 3, this stress is probably starting to set in, if it hasn’t already. It’s important to take some time, even if it’s only a minute or two each day, to give yourself a mental break. This might mean a moment of quiet meditation, or going on a long walk outside, or taking a coffee/tea break. Whatever it means for you, having a moment to de-stress and take care of yourself is crucial.
What do you think? What do you struggle with during Week 3? What are your tips? Let me know in the comments!
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