The 30,000-Word Slump: A NaNoWriMo Horror Story

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbWell, fellow Wrimos, it’s that time of November again. Not just National Novel Writing Month. Not just literary insanity mixed with sleep deprivation, caffeine over-consumption and thinking we hear our characters talking to us out loud (they’re not). It’s the time to be brave, to face our biggest fears, to finally gain temporary control over our setting, plot and characters (though not necessarily in that order). It’s time to fight the battle we’ve been dreading since typing out our first word.

It’s time to plow through our 30,000th word.

Those of you less familiar with the ins and outs of NaNo Land are questioning my one-liner. Isn’t the point of NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words in 30 days, not 30,000? What’s the big deal?

You have much to learn, apprentice.

I’m telling you right now, the “30,000-word Slump,” as I like to call it, is absolutely 100 percent NOT a myth. I will honestly admit that in every single book I have ever started writing (and I’ve started a great deal more than I’ve finished), it has hit me every. Single. Time. There’s something about the stage of being past halfway but nowhere near finished that blocks my brain. It’s the NaNo horror of all horrors.

My NaNo participant badge (look to your right) does not lie. I’ve just today hit the dreaded 30,000-word mark, and I’m kind of freaking out.

I love my story, I have a beautiful love-hate relationship with my characters, and I pretty much just figured out how I want the entire book to end. So it isn’t that I have “Writer’s Block” (that, on the other hand, is so totally a myth) or that I’m bored with my story. It’s literally this stage of NaNo progress that mentally trips me up every year, and every year during JulNo. I can even remember a book I was working on that was not part of a wrimo (apocalypse, I know) that I stopped writing completely around 30,000 words and never went back to finish it.


These past experiences and worries are not to say that I won’t wake up tomorrow and write a thousand words or two. After a cup of coffee and a few shameless moves in Words with Friends to wake my brain up, I’m in the habit of writing probably more than I have time for so close to the end of the semester.  I probably will write at least a thousand words, if not a few hundred more than that, before diving back into biochemistry land for the rest of the day.

The problem is, though, that even though I might write that much, I’ll struggle all the way through it. I’ll write a hundred words or so, get distracted by something (SQUIRREL) and not really have any desire to keep going. My dialogue will drag. I’ll spend five minutes trying to figure out how to describe a rug (no, really, that actually happened). It will take twice as long to get those words written.

The good news is, it usually only lasts a day or two. Sometimes I’ll write and struggle, and sometimes I’ll write a few hundred words and just let it be for the day. That’s why I always try to get ahead a day or two before I hit 30,000, just in case. So if you and I have similar brains, well, for one thing, I’m sorry. Secondly, just hang in there. Once you get past the I-don’t-want-to-write-this-no-no-no state of mind, you’ll fly through the last 20,000 in no time. Literally. There’s pretty much no time left.

Enjoy it while you can. 30,000 words is a HUGE accomplishment – keep going! Keep going! WE CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!

Love&hugs, Meg<3

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