I wrote a post two years ago called The Curse of NaNoWriMo Week Two: Common problems and their solutions and I suspect I’ll never really be able to top that one when it comes to dealing with the unique issues the second week of NaNoWriMo brings. If you’re finding yourself having trouble now that we’re in the second week if this month long challenge, I encourage you to go check that out as I’ve been told it’s helpful. But instead of focusing on the issues that Week Two can bring, I’m going to take the exact opposite take for this year’s pep talk.
Even if this is your first NaNo, you may have already heard rumblings about the second week. It’s become infamous for being the hardest week of the whole month, not to mention the week that the most people end up giving up or quitting the challenge entirely. The reason for this is simple: After the euphoria of starting your novel and the novelty of the first week of NaNoWriMo, this is the week when you both reach the more challenging part of your story and really start to realize the enormity of this challenge you signed up for.
Here’s the thing, though: Week Two isn’t really as bad as you’ve heard. Honest.
But, in case you aren’t convinced, let’s do a little cleansing recap of the positive parts of sliding into NaNoWriMo Week Two:
- You’ve got a whole week of writing (almost) every day under your belt! This achievement cannot be understated. There are career writers that spend their whole lives trying to get into that kind of rhythm and you’re already getting in the swing of daily writing even though you’re probably not pro.
- You’ve got an honest to God real start to your story. OK, fine, maybe it’s completely terrible, your horror/mystery story is now a dark comedy and maybe you already realized that character you killed in that first section needs to un-die for this next part to make sense but, you know what? That’s what editing is for. You’ve actually started a novel which is more than most people accomplish in their entire lives.
- You’re working towards the halfway mark. A month seemed so long when you signed up for this challenge, didn’t it? Well, chances are good that you’ll pass the middle of the month mark either during or just after Week Two. Which not only means the end is in sight but also gives you something solid to work towards. Push yourself towards that goal even if you aren’t happy with how your story is turning out. No matter what happens later, knowing you stuck it out for more than 50% of the challenge is a very good feeling.
See? There’s plenty to be excited about in Week Two. And if you really want to make this week spectacular consider these ways to make this week your best of the four:
- Push yourself to get ahead on word count. I don’t just mean a little ahead. I mean crazy ahead. Week Two’s supposed to be annoying anyway, right? So making it a little harder on yourself and embracing the terrible reputation the week has by giving yourself even more work to do is actually the best way to handle the week. Firstly, you’ll be cruising into weeks three and four with a massive cushion of words that will be there to catch you if you fall behind later in the month. Secondly, by pushing yourself to write beyond where you should be for Week Two, you ensure that the writing will only get easier. After all, you’ll be writing those easier Week Three and Four words from the climax of your story even if the calendar still says Week Two.
- Write your way through the week with writing friends and connections. Nothing gets the words flowing like a little friendly competition. Join the NaNoWriMo Word Sprints on Twitter, attend a local write in or participate in word wars. Don’t know anyone doing NaNoWriMo? Go meet some people either online and off! There are hundreds of thousands of writers participating all over the world and local events if you’d prefer someone in your area. Just having buddies on the site to use as pace cars can be enough to make you crank out more words. Not only will this support group help you keep the words coming while you slog through the second week, these Wrimos can often turn into critique partners, writer’s groups, editing and publishing resources and plain old friends once NaNoWriMo is over. Not to mention, it makes the whole process a heck of a lot more fun.
- Keep writing. Don’t quit. Simple enough, right? But it’s going to get pretty tempting as the month goes on to just give up on all this writing work and go back to your normal life. You owe it to yourself not to do that. Not only because you made a promise to yourself to write this novel this month but also because it’s about to get much, much easier. If you stick with it, the following weeks will take you to the really fun parts of your story. You’ll be tearing through words faster than your fingers can keep up once your plot starts coming together, your action sequence starts to play out and your plot starts to head towards its exciting end. If you quit now, you’ll never know what your story has in store for you in the near future.
How’s NaNoWriMo treating you so far? Are you going into Week Two full of dread or excitement?