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NaNoWriMo Halfway Point Check-up: What if the middle of 50,000 words isn’t the middle of your novel?

by Nov 15, 2010National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), On Writing: Craft and Commiseration0 comments

Today is November 15. You know what that means? It means you should be halfway done with your NaNoWriMo novel right now. In other words, if you’re trying to hit a word count of 50,000 you should be at 25,000 by the end of today.

Take a look at your current word count. Are you on pace? If not, you should really push yourself to get caught up today.

Maybe you’re ludicrously ahead. But sometimes, even if you’re ahead on word count, you may still be behind on the story itself. As we’ve discussed a few times on this blog, most novels are longer than 50,000 words. So, even if you are at 25,000 words today, you may not be at the middle of your novel.

Halfway thereNot to keep obsessively beating the same drum, but you will get a lot more out of NaNoWriMo if you focus on finishing your novel, not just the challenge. Writing 50,000 words of a novel is great, but finishing the first draft of an entire novel is even better and that’s what you really want to push yourself towards this month. So, if you’ve found yourself at the halfway point of the month and you’ve realized that you’re not at the halfway point of your novel, now is the perfect time to readjust your goals so that you can really truly finish the whole thing.

If you’re anything like me, you probably find it really hard to estimate how many words a given story is going to take. But, since we’ve already gotten some of our novel done, let’s take this opportunity to compare what we’ve written with our outlines. How many words did it take to get you to this point in your outline? Can you figure out percentage-wise approximately how many words it should take you to get all the way to the end?

If you didn’t outline, and you’re going by the seat of your pants, that’s okay too. You can’t evaluate your story as technically as those that outlined did but you can still get some idea of how close to the middle you are. You’ve read a lot of books and you have a sense of what their flow is like. Does it feel like you’re close to the middle or is your story still really only just getting started? Will you need to write twice as much as what you’ve written already to finish it? Three times as much? Only you know the answer.

Whether you’re going by the numbers are going by your gut, today’s the perfect day to get a sense of what you need to do to complete your goals by the months end. You may find that you need to increase your word count goal, which means increasing the number of words per day you write. While this may seem scary, you’ve got plenty of time and adjusting your goals early makes it that much easier to reach them.

And if reevaluating your NaNoWriMo novel has made you realize that you are incredibly behind either on word count or on the story itself or both, that’s okay too. Think about how long those first 15 days felt. You’ve got a whole other 15 left to go, and the closer you get to the end of NaNoWriMo the closer you get to the end of your novel. The closer you get the end of your novel, the more exciting your story gets which makes it that much easier to write. So no matter how far behind you are, the going gets easier from here on out. Even if you are behind.

Behind or ahead, we all have 15 days of novel writing madness under our belts at this point. How’s it going for you so far?



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Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.

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