NaNo What Now?

Finding your editing process, revising your NaNoWriMo book and building a writing career through publishing and beyond

Building a Writing Life

start a writing habit, find time to write, discover your process and commit to your writing dreams Non-Fiction

Thing is, no one ever reached their writing dreams by not writing. You don’t finish your story by quitting. You finish it by adding words, steadily and continuously until the book is done.

NaNoWriMo is nearly over. Only 8 days until this whole wild challenge is behind us and we’re swept up in the holiday chaos that accelerates us all into the end of the year.

I know some of you have already reached or even surpassed 50,000 words and I want you to know that you are awesome and have accomplished something amazing here this month. I am so darn proud of you!

For those of you still furiously racing to the finish line, I highly recommend getting yourself a word buffer as we head into Thanksgiving Week because the holiday can definitely throw off your writing groove. But if you do have some time off, it might be just the thing you need to catch up and reach your goals. 

Remember the busy writer’s best friend, the word sprint: set a timer for 15 minutes, write like the wind, take a break, repeat. You’ll be amazed at how much you can write in fits and spurts like that. 

And if you’ve stopped writing, well, there are a lot of perfectly legitimate reasons why that might be so. 

  • Maybe your hand was chopped off by a black knight on a white horse and you need to saddle up your dragon to seek vengeance. 
  • Maybe your best friend has been turned into a dog and you need to go seduce that evil sorcerer for the magic amulet to turn him back. 
  • Maybe you are being swallowed by a boa constrictor and you don’t like it very much. 

These are all very valid reasons for giving up on NaNoWriMo and I accept all of them.

But you know what one I won’t accept? If you quit because you don’t think you can reach 50,000 words. “Oh, I don’t think I can write exactly 50,000 words this month so I might as well quit and write NOTHING!” 

I mean, what

If you can’t run the whole marathon, you don’t throw up your hands and cut straight through the crowd to your car. You walk the rest of the way. But you still finish. 

Thing is, there’s no such thing as too far behind. There are people every year who manage to sign up at the last minute and write 50,000 words in a week or less. Go check out the OA section of the forums sometime and you’ll see there are people who can do the whole 50k in a day or two. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this and point out that it is NOT too late for you to win, if that’s what’s really important to you. 

But NaNoWriMo is a case where winning is absolutely not everything. 

Listen, I love NaNoWriMo as much as… ok, probably more than the next gal but can we all get real for a minute here? 50,000 words is a target a random guy in a coffee shop picked 20 years ago when NaNoWriMo was born. It’s a nice thing to shoot for and a heck of an accomplishment to write that much in a month but it’s also just a completely arbitrary number. 

Most novels are longer than 50,000 words. Most people ending this month, even if they wrote 50,000 words or more, are walking away without having reached the end of their stories. If you don’t finish your book this month, you’re in very good company. Whether you end up with 50,000 words or 5,000 words or 500 words, there will still be plenty of writing to do once the calendar flips to December. 

Thing is, no one ever reached their writing dreams by not writing. You don’t finish your story by quitting. You finish it by adding words, steadily and continuously until the book is done. 

So let’s forget about the numbers, arbitrary benchmarks and everyone else’s word count. The real victory of this month is that you started, you saw it through and you walked away with something, even if it wasn’t exactly as much as you planned.

There are only a few days left. Just a few more days to leave it all on the page so you can walk away with the satisfaction of knowing you really did give it your all. No matter what number that ultimately looks like. 

You’ve come this far. 

Come on. 

Let’s see it through. 


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About the Author

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

Books and Plays by Hillary DePiano