How to Avoid the 30,000-Word Slump | NaNo Talk 2015


Those participating in NaNoWriMo this month will hit 30,000 words this week, which is great! Unless you’re like a lot of us, and find yourself stuck in a creativity ditch as soon as you approach this landmark.

If this does happen to you, or has happened before, you are not the only one. Here at Novelty Revisions we call this “the 30,000-word slump.” Hitting this mark means you’ve made a lot of progress on your novel up to this point, but you’re starting to struggle. It’s both physically and mentally exhausting, and possible, yet difficult, to get through.

Here’s how to handle it.

First, what is it?

The 30,000-word slump happens just when you’ve launched yourself over the halfway mark during a WriMo (Writing Month). Up to this point you’ve probably been fairly confident you can definitely write 50,000 words in 30 days, even if you haven’t quite hit the halfway point yet. Somewhere between 27,000 and 33,000 words, it’s like you’ve hit a roadblock. Inspiration had vanished, and anything you do write feels forced and unusable.

It’s not a fun time, and if you’re going through it or can feel yourself approaching it, do not worry. You are not alone!

Why does it happen?

You’ve made it through 30,000 words, which is technically more than halfway. Yet somehow those last 20,000 words start to seem impossible. You’ve most likely written all the beginning parts of your story you had stored in your head the entire month of October. You think you know how you want to end it, but you’re not ready or willing to skip ahead.

This is basically your brain just having a necessary meltdown. It’s normal (hopefully), and if you’ve made it this far in your novel anyway, you’re going to make it all the way. Just don’t stop!

How to avoid falling deeper into the slump

  • Take it slow. Write a little, stand up, go do something else and come back a little later. Break your daily word count into smaller pieces: 200 words at a time, 500, 50, whatever is going to get you through it. If you’re feeling a little burned out, sitting in the same spot for an hour or two trying to focus on one difficult task isn’t going to be easy. Do what you can in a short sprint and let yourself rest for a little while.
  • Spend a little time plotting. If you’re feeling stuck and just can’t get words out, spend a little time planning out what you want to happen next. This could end up being a productive outlining session or you might walk away feeling more frustrated and discouraged, but what’s important is that you’re still making an effort to think about your novel even if you’re not ready to work on it right now.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you fall behind. It’s best to plan ahead and give yourself a little buffer by writing a day or two ahead of schedule for times like these. But if you haven’t been able to do that, don’t stress. Write a little at a time, even if that means falling behind a day or two. The nice thing about this word count slump is that, as long as you keep making progress, you will come out of it, and that final stretch to 50,000 will absolutely fly by.

Don’t get discouraged! Lean on your writing buddies and regional partners/MLs to help you get through it or, if you’re lucky, avoid it altogether. You are NEVER alone in NaNoLand. Even if it doesn’t happen to you every time, it has probably happened to each one of us at least once. Pace yourself and be patient. This, too, shall pass.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

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