Pushing Through & Finishing Your Draft – NaNoWriMo 2018, Week 3

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Time for some honesty. I struggle to finish drafts.

It’s not the word count or finding the time that hurts me. I just can never find the right way to end my story and do it justice. I talk a little bit more about how I’ve failed at doing this in my first NaNoWriMo post, My NaNoWriMo Plotting Process.

The third week of NaNoWriMo just finished, and we’re in the end game.  I’m 79,597 words into this manuscript (43360 for NaNoWriMo). I’m far above my original goal of 70k and while it’s looking like I’ll exceed my updated goal of 85k by at least a couple thousand, I’m in the last few chapters. Which means it’s time to work on ending my book.

Endings are hard. You put so much time and effort into this story, you get to know these characters and their lives, do the best you can to give them the conclusion you think is fit, and then you have to say goodbye.

The goodbye isn’t forever– revisions are necessary for every book– but I personally hate leaving the drafting stage. When you start a book, there’s so much potential. It can be anything. Maybe I’ll write beautifully. Maybe my characters will take a life of their own. Maybe I’ll be able to come up with plot twists that will make readers gasp. But ending a manuscript means accepting what your story has become. 

There are endless plot threads I never got to weave in. Themes I never explored to the extent I wanted to. A quarter of my words are misspelled and I’m not even sure my writing can be called English anymore considering how I massacred proper grammar. 

I hold myself to these high standards, that my novel has to be perfect, but no first draft is a masterpiece. Yes, you need to accept what your story became in the drafting stage. You can’t just delete the file or burn the pages. You need to look at what you’ve written, plot holes and all, and be proud, because it’s something to be proud of. Accept your draft, and remember you can revise it later (and open up an entirely new set of insecurities). 

I’ve always been too afraid to accept what I’ve written. Because of that, I would do everything I could to avoid giving my books the endings they deserve. I didn’t want it to end, because then I would have to look back at my book and see what a mess it was.

Not this year.

I’ll see you all at the finish line, with my ugly mess of a draft, and I’ll have an ending that I’m proud of.

Are you close to your novel’s ending? What’s your favorite final line of a book?

Check out my latest NaNoWriMo post here:
 Halfway Through NaNoWriMo 2018 & How To Stay Motivated

Halfway Through NaNoWriMo 2018 & How to Stay Motivated

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We are officially half way through NaNoWriMo!!!

I honestly can’t believe the month has gone this fast. I still feel like it’s November 4th.  Luckily, my word count has gone up with the days. I’m currently at 30,156 words for this month, 66,393 words total! By the way, if you want to see my progress, add me as a writing buddy (I really want more writer friends!), or check out my goal tracker for my WIP!

While I’ve been writing for a few weeks before NaNoWriMo started, I hit a rough patch in NaNo week 2. I know that happens with a lot of people. The momentum is waning. You’ve written your first few chapters and now you aren’t sure where to go, or maybe you skipped to the chapters you were most eager to write and now you need to go back and work on less interesting scenes. Suddenly, this novel isn’t a shiny and exciting new thing, but instead, it’s become a chore.

Week 2 can be hard for everyone. In previous years, I just gave up at the halfway mark and didn’t bother. But now I’ve learned some tips to stay in the game, and I want to share them with you.

1. If you write in order, maybe try skipping around.

I know. It sacrilege.  But sometimes, it helps to just focus on the scenes that have you most excited. However, I must admit, I struggle with this. I’m a chronological person at heart and the idea of skipping any scene- even a small, inconsequential one terrifies me.

2.  Go back to what inspired you

Sometimes, when you lose your motivation, it’s important to remember what motivated you to begin with. Was it a song? A conversation you had with someone? Or maybe something you experiences in your life. I find it helps to look back at what made me want to write this story.

My current WIP is heavily inspired by one of my favorite movies, and when I struggled to put words on paper, I would re-watch my favorite scenes. A previous NaNo novel of mine was based on an aspect of my life that I didn’t see often in YA books, so whenever I was stuck, I would think or journal about that part of my life.

3. Do some writing craft research

I love learning about writing, and if you’re doing NaNoWriMo then I think it’s safe to assume you do too. One thing that never fails to get me interested in my book again, is to hear other people talk about their books and give their advice. I love to watch authors and booktubers’ videos on writing.

Here’s a link to a great author & youtuber, Alexa Donne, and her video on the best writing advice she’s learned!

4. Read a book that inspires you

Some authors are absolutely brilliant writers and nothing makes me more determined to write than to read a book (or even just a quote) by Roshani Chokshi, Leigh Bardugo, or Tomi Adeyemi. Seeing how beautifully they write even the simplest of lines makes me want to try to do the same.

That doesn’t mean you should limit inspiring books to just beautifully written ones. Try to find some books with character arcs that you think are really well done, or plots that grip you. Whatever inspires you most, use that when you need something to drive you. Admittedly, sometimes I get self-conscious when I see how talented these authors are, but once I was able to push that aside, this became an invaluable tool for me.

Writing is hard. It’s painful and challenging and absolutely brutal, but it’s not impossible. 

Put on your favorite fluffy socks, pour out some coffee, and push through.

You got this.

How are you surviving NaNoWriMo? What are your best tips for when you are struggling to find motivation?

Check out my latest NaNoWriMo post here: My NaNoWriMo Plotting Process (2018)

My NaNoWriMo Plotting Process (2018)

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Having done NaNoWriMo five different times over the course of seven years, I have tried a lot of different ways to reach that 50k and finish my novels.

When I first started, back in 2011, I had no idea what I was doing. All I had was a vague idea and theme that I wanted to work with, a simple sketch in my head of my main two characters. For some people, that works.

I’m not one of those people.

I gave up halfway through the month at around 25k. The next year, I went in wanting to rewrite what I had written in 2011 and actually finish it. However, I didn’t think it through beyond that.

I ended that year with about 33k.

It wasn’t until 2013 that I actually won. Using a basic plot chart-– the type I was given in my English class for analyzing novels– I created a simple story structure for a dystopian YA novel. Most of the book was planned out, except the ending. Luckily, I managed to write 52k…. and then never write the ending. In 2015, I tried to rewrite the dystopian and hopefully finish it. But because I was lazy I never actually thought out the ending and stopped once I reached 55k. That same issue happened when I started a new YA contemporary book in 2017. I got through two acts, and while I had a vague outline for the third act, I still wasn’t able to finish it.

So that brings me to this year and my current method.

I got the idea for my current WIP in July, and began outlining and planning over the summer. I used the 3 Act/9 Block/27 Chapter Structure. If you haven’t heard of it (like I hadn’t), I highly recommend watching Katytastic’s video on it!

This time, I left nothing up to change. Every chapter had a distinct goal, and for all of Act I, I split each chapter into 3 scenes that each had a goal. I later changed up the scenes and how they fell, but it definitely helped to keep my momentum.

By October, I started writing (I know it was early, please don’t kill me). I began on October 9th, and tracked my progress using the Goal Trackers on the NaNo site.

My original goal was to write 20k in October, then 50k in November, and finish the rough draft with 70k. It was a little short for a YA fantasy, but I would be able to fix that in editing.

By November 1st, I had 35k.

My first act alone was 30k, meaning if the other acts are that long, I’ll have around a 90k draft.

I was hoping to use NaNoWriMo to keep me motivated to continue writing through until I finish this book, but now it’s looking like I won’t be done by the end of NaNo.

My current plan is:

  • Write 35k in October (Check!)
  • Write an additional 50k in November
  • Write 1-5k in December to finish the draft!

I’m almost at the end of Act II, with 53k words and only about 2.5 chapters left. I’ll probably either just hit 30k for this act, or fall short by a couple thousand words. If all goes well, I’ll be finishing this book by December 1st or 2nd.

And then it’s time for revisions.


How do you plan for NaNoWriMo? Do you religiously outline, or pants it?
Also, add me as a writing buddy!