Thrive During NaNoWriMo with the Magnificent Step Seven: “Give it one more try”

Passageway that turns right into a passage you can't yet see. Towering interior walls of a fortress in Koblenz block your view in all directions..
When you can’t quite see the way out of your story. Ehrenbreitstein fortress, Koblenz, Germany. © Laurel Decher, 2016.

This is the seventh (and final!) post in a short series on preparing for (and thriving during) National Novel Writing Month. The first post collects story ingredients here , the second finds the core of your story here , the third cuts the story up into manageable portion sizes here, the fourth clarifies the story soup here, the fifth looks ahead to life after NaNoWriMo, the sixth collects what you’ve learned about how you write best. Happy Writing!

This post is about the last push. Maybe you’re coming down the home stretch of your manuscript and you can taste that 50K.

If so, what are you doing here? 😉 Go write. See you later!

Or maybe you’re having one of those moments where the phrase “word count” makes you feel nauseous. If so, this post is for you.

Story 1: One of my first paid jobs was as a dishwasher in a chemistry research lab. The “dishes” already looked clean before I washed them, but I had to wash and rinse each tiny glass piece six times to make sure nothing would interfere with the experiments. One day, nothing went right. I might have broken a tiny flask. At any rate, I packed up to go home and stopped by my mom’s lab next door on my way out.

“Give it one more try,” she said.

Because, moms.

I was positive I couldn’t do another 15 minutes, but I went back and somehow found my dishwashing mojo. The rhythm of the work took hold. By the end of the day, things were better in dishwashing land. And hey, when you get paid by the hour, every little bit helps.

Story 2: Last night, story strands were all over the place–leaking out of notebooks and laptops and phones and index cards. The chapter-in-progress was overwhelming me.

I wrote in my notebook: “I have to stop thinking up cool ideas for this story. It’s bulging at the seams!!”

I wanted to pack it in and go to bed.

But the husband was chipping away at his lecture and, you know the drill:

“Give it one more try.”

I looked for the simplest thing I could do. A bulleted list of things a sidekick character was trying to convince my main character of. Then I shrugged and went to bed.

This morning, I found a whole new chapter buried in that list. You don’t have to be inspired to create. All you need is the rhythm of the work: Work it, let it rest, work it, let it rest. We’re back to the pie crust analogy.

A simple paradox: It doesn’t matter if you don’t get 50,000 words this year. It matters if you let the days go by without getting any words. Because writers don’t get paid by the hour, but if we don’t write words, nothing happens.

As Rachel Aaron writes in 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, Writing More of What You Love:

“[T]he single most efficient change you can make isn’t actually upping your daily word count, but eliminating the days where you are not writing. Also, you’ll be a lot happier. Personally, I’ve found there is no greater source of peace and contentment than that which comes from being happy with my stories.”

You’ve got until Wednesday for this year’s NaNoWriMo: So listen to mom’s advice and “Give it one more try.”

Happy writing!

Have you come up with ways to ease or entice yourself into the work? Share in the comments. I’d love to learn a few new tricks. 🙂

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Laurel Decher

LAUREL DECHER writes stories about all things Italian, vegetable, or musical. Beloved pets of the past include "Stretchy the Leech" and a guinea pig that unexpectedly produced twins. She's famous for a nonexistent sense of direction, but carries maps because people always ask her for directions. When she's not lost, she can be found on Twitter and on her blog, This Is An Overseas Post, where she writes about life with her family in Germany. She's still a Vermonter and an epidemiologist at heart. PSA: Eat more kale! :) Her short fiction for adults, UNFORESEEN TIMES, originally appeared in _Windhover_. Photo: © Jane Joo Park, 2017.

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