We’re entering the second week of NaNoWriMo and you’ve probably heard the warnings already. NaNoWriMo week two is shrouded in infamy. It’s not really the second week’s fault, it has more to do with where you are in your story at this point in the month but it can still give you problems even if your story is meticulously mapped out. If you’re way ahead in your word count, you may have hit the week two blues last week or, if you’re behind, you may not hit them till the week following. Rest assured, you will hit them. It’s just a matter of when.
If you’ve never done NaNoWriMo before, you may be wondering what the big deal is. Distilled down, there are three big problems you’ll find in week two.
Your train of thought has been derailed
You were having lots of fun writing your exciting chase scene but it’s only now occurred to you that you don’t know who’s chasing them and why. You were being crafty and subtle with your cryptic hints last week but now you realize you should probably figure out what you were hinting at. Don’t think you’re immune to this just because you outlined your story ahead of time, week two is also the time when you may find yourself straying the worst off outline or most seriously doubting your plot.
Week two is when you first step back and suspect your plot is nonexistent or just plain terrible.
Solution? Don’t sweat the plot stuff. Like Dory in Finding Nemo, just keep swimming or, in this case, writing even if what you’re writing doesn’t make any sense. Believe it or not, the plot issues almost always work themselves out if you just keep at it. Even if they don’t, fixing plot issues is what revisions are for. You can fix it later. Just focus on getting the draft done right now. There will always be things to fix. Your focus now is just getting the first draft finished.
You’re starting to suspect your book is too long or too short
Week two is also scary because it’s your first real taste of just how long 50,000 words is. It’s usually week two when you realize the 50,000 words will only take you halfway through your story or that you’ve run out of plot before you’ve even hit 25,000 words. Week two is the first time you really start to think about the length of your story as a whole and realizing how that applies to the 50,000 word marker can be distressing realization.
Solution? Adjust your story accordingly. If your story is too short, start thinking on either how to lengthen it or of a second story you could write a complete out the 50,000 words. If your story is too long, that’s actually good problem to have. 50,000 words is actually a pretty short novel, most novels published today are much longer than that. If your novel is shaping up to be over 50,000 words, you’re probably in good shape especially if your aim is to eventually be published.
In this case, you don’t need to adjust your story, just your expectations. The focus should be to finish the story no matter what the word count. If week two makes you realize that your story is really 100,000 words, start pushing yourself even harder so that you’ll finish the book in November, not just the challenge.
What was I thinking? I don’t have time to do this!
Week two is also the time when real life starts to intrude again. Maybe you let your responsibilities slide in the first week to be able to get more writing done and now those responsibilities are coming back with a vengeance. Maybe you picked up some bad habits in week one, like staying up all night or drinking too much coffee, and now you’re paying the price. Maybe you’re starting to regret taking on this challenge in the first place.
Solution? Everyone who has ever done this challenge feels this way when they hit Week Two. Everyone who has ever started to write a novel outside of the NaNoWriMo world also feels this when they hit this part of their story. Focus on the fact that you’re in good company. Hundreds of writers have felt this exact same way and managed to push through and finish their books and so can you. We all have moments when we feel like we’re the worst writer ever.
The only thing that separates working writers from wanna be’s is that they didn’t stop when the going got tough.
Besides, pushing through not only gets you further in your novel, it also gets you past Week Two which is exactly where you want to be. As you approach the climax of your story, probably right around the middle of Week Three, your plot will really start cooking and everything will get much easier and more fun again.
What problems do you find yourself hitting in Week Two? Have you figured out how to work through them?