3 Things to Do the Week After NaNoWriMo | NaNo Talk 2015


Somehow, every year, National Novel Writing Month begins and ends with a single blink.

Before NaNoWriMo 2015 began, we published a post to help you reorder your priorities in preparation for the month ahead. Now that the month is coming to a close, here are three things you can do the week following this 30-day literary adventure.

Decide what’s next for your story

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words of a story in 30 days. Most agree that these words should be part of a new project, meaning you aren’t just writing 50,000 words of the same story you’ve already been working on for awhile. The standard novel is about 20,000 words longer than that, though. So you might have more to write. Or not. There is no right or wrong here.

After November 30, the next step is up to you. You can continue writing at the same pace, or a little slower, until you do finish your story. If you’re already finished, you can start revising. You can take a break, or start a new project while you let the finished one rest for a little while. What’s important is that you choose what comes next, and stick with it.

Congratulate a few of your fellow participants/winners (and yourself)

Everyone works hard as a NaNo participant, whether you’re doing so on an individual basis, with a few buddies or at the head of your region as an ML. Everyone deserves kudos when it’s all over, whether you’ve hit the mark or not. Writing the story itself may not be a team effort, but building each other up, even after the fact, is.

Don’t wait for your ML or a teammate to congratulate you – reach out to someone you haven’t gotten to talk with very much during your writing frenzy and wish them a job well done, just because you can. And don’t forget to celebrate your own accomplishment, too. Whether you won or didn’t quite get there this year, you tried. You deserve to be proud of that.

Take a break (you deserve it!)

You just wrote a whole bunch of words in 30 days! RELAX! Don’t push yourself to keep writing if you’re feeling burned out. It’s completely normal to feel that way after a WriMo. What you don’t want to do is unintentionally spend an entire second month sprinting without giving your brain a chance to recover from all the creative energy you’ve used up this past month.

Taking a break doesn’t have to mean you quit writing for a week or two, but even if you do (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), there are other things you can do to keep your brain awake in the meantime.

Whether you continue writing, start revising or put your book to bed for the holiday season, don’t forget to step back and really look at all those words you wrote, no matter your final word count. You’re pretty amazing.

There’s a lot we have to give up when we’re writing in a time crunch, but it’s these moments, the end of the finish line however you want to define it, that make it worth it.

Kudos to you. For real.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

NaNoWriMo 2015: I Thought This Would Eventually Get Old


I first discovered National Novel Writing Month by accident.

If I remember correctly, it was either a Youtuber I watched way back when (ah 2008) or John Green that drew my attention to this crazy awesome thing I had never heard of before (or a Youtuber talking about John Green talking about NaNoWriMo, which is more likely the case).

According to my profile, I joined the website on October 28, 2008. Three days before NaNoWriMo started. Procrastination at its finest, I suppose.

I was a junior in high school at this point, so to me, this was a huge deal. I was excited. I emailed everyone I knew (we still did that back then too!). I had sort of written a book before … if you could even call them that. They were novellas and they were awful. Not that this first ‘real’ novel I wrote was any better.

But I had this crazy dream of being a writer. So I figured I’d give this whole writing 50,000 words in a month thing a try. I didn’t really care whether I won or lost. I really just wanted a good excuse to write instead of doing my homework (yep).

Yet somehow, I fell in love with writing a ton of words in a short amount of time. So much so that, on Thanksgiving that year, I won. I even managed to finish my whole book within that word limit. I finished my first ‘book’ and won my first WriMo at the same time.

Which is probably why the picture you see above happened. It was a big deal.

My biggest worry as the years have passed is that winning will become less and less of a ‘big deal.’ I use WriMos as a way to jumpstart my ideas and force myself to write (if you’re interested in more of my thoughts on this, check out this post). I don’t do it to win. But as soon as I get into a rhythm of writing a certain number of words per day, it just becomes inevitable.

It has taken me years to build up this much self-discipline when it comes to writing. That’s the most important thing I like to highlight when I do talk about this. I don’t talk about winning to make other people feel bad. Because here’s the thing: whether you write five words or 50,000 this month, you worked on a novel. YOU WROTE STUFF. Not everyone can say they’ve done that.

I’ve just always figured that at some point, winning would stop feeling so great. Because of my lack of a full-time job (sigh) and this discipline and really just a love for writing and stories and talking with voices in my head that aren’t really there (hehe), I’ve won every year I’ve tried. I won today. I just did it.

And you know what? It feels just as good today as it did all those years ago.

No one’s lifting me up in the air and embarrassing the living crap out of me (weeee), but I still did it.

There’s just something about writing because you love it, because you love your story and your characters and you just want to write all day every day forever, that makes all the work you’ve done wroth it. Big accomplishments, small accomplishments, they all matter. And you should never, ever be afraid to be proud of what you’ve done.

If you’re still writing – KEEP GOING! I believe you CAN do this.

If you’ve claimed your spot in the winner’s circle – CONGRATS!

And if you started writing a book this month, and have tried, but have fallen behind or you just can’t do it this year, KUDOS to you for doing your best. It’s not about winning. It’s about writing. It’s about transforming the ideas inside your head into beautiful, tangible, lovable words.

Winning feels great. It always has. It always will.

But writing? Writing is the reward. Getting to put time into your story, that’s the best part about it.

Thank you for sticking with me, as always. I’ll continue updating you weekly on the progress of this story. I hope to have a first draft finished by the end of the year.

Fingers crossed.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Meg Dowell.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to Get Writing Done Over Thanksgiving | NaNo Talk 2015


For all our readers and fellow NaNo participants (or just writers in general) in the US, Thanksgiving is fast-approaching. Which is great food-, family- and shopping-wise, but not so convenient when you have a daily word count to meet and only have a week left to hit 50,000 words.

Here’s how to keep up, catch up or get ahead on your word count no matter how you plan on spending your Thanksgiving holiday this week and weekend.

Get it done first

There’s not much worse than going through your whole day thinking about how you still have writing to do. While this might be manageable if it’s the only way it fits into your routine, it’s the last thing you want hanging over your head when you have food to cook and people to impress (or not).

As much as you would probably love to sleep in, you might be better off waking up a little bit earlier and knocking out your words before you have to be anywhere or do any chores. Sometimes it’s better all around if you push through it, get out of the way and don’t have to think about it anymore.

Double up now

The tough part about holidays is there isn’t a set routine like there is on any other regular day of the year. You might try to promise yourself you’ll wake up early or you’ll get it done before you go to sleep, but there’s no guarantee something won’t come up or you’ll be too tired to follow through.

If you know you won’t be able to write over the holiday (maybe you’re traveling or, as expected, you just want to relax), or you don’t trust yourself to keep up, double up on your word count early this week. Start now. It might seem like a lot of extra work, but it’s only three days. Break it up and see how far ahead you can get. Put your own mind at ease. You can sleep after Wednesday!

Use your down time

There’s usually a lot more down time throughout the day than you think there will be. If you eat dinner earlier in the day, most of the afternoon probably consists of naps and sitting around watching (or trying not to listen to) football anyway.

Use that down time to get some writing in. Get comfy on the couch with your laptop and just type away. Grab some headphones if you can only tolerate a certain kind of background noise while you write. Let all those carbs count for something and see what your brain can come up with in the aftermath.


You can still enjoy your holiday without having to spend the majority of it worrying about your word count. Don’t let it throw you off! You’re almost there! KEEP GOING!!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

NaNoWriMo 2015: A Look Back at Everything I’ve Google Searched This Week


Google is a writer-in-a-hurry’s best friend.

I have never done so much research for a novel, and I’ve been writing for a long time. This is the worst month of the year to be writing a book that requires having some knowledge of how things work (writer problems. Writer problems everywhere). I’ve been looking things up for writing purposes and for professional reasons, and thought you might be entertained by a few of them.

Why? Because November is too short not to take five minutes to laugh (and cringe at how weird I get toward the end of NaNo, it happens every year).

You have been warned.

WebMD knows everything about diseases I don’t have

I’m a fairly healthy person, and I know enough about how the body is supposed to function under normal conditions to seek medical attention from an actual human when something goes wrong (I could rant about this for pages, stop me now). But I don’t have an undetected congenital heart defect or depression and (okay it’s not a disease technically, but) I AM NOT PREGNANT (NOT NOT NOT NOPE NOPE NOPE). So please don’t judge my search history OKAY? I’m trying to take care of my characters here.

Flipping the funnel

Keep in mind here that I am a writer and editor by day, graduate student by night (where’s my cape? WHO TOOK MY CAPE?). I’m in a marketing class and had to do some research for a report due Monday. It’s actually pretty interesting to do this kind of research, figuring out how to listen and talk to your customers/community/followers. I don’t do the best job of that with all of you. I mean, I do the best I can, but I also never really took a communications course before starting my MS program so it’s information overload to the max over here.

I know nothing about how high school works

Okay, back to my novel. Let me be clear, I’m not THAT old, it hasn’t been THAT long since I was in high school. But apparently I have blocked out everything having to do with basic logistics, like how long a school day is, what an AP class is like, how high school theatre auditions work, you know, the basics. Side note, I accidentally had a 15-year-old driving a car by herself without a license, which isn’t so much about being out of high school too long as it is about just not paying attention to the real world at all ever.


This one requires a bit more of an explanation. I am a writer, editor and graduate student, but I also have one part-time job and am on a continuous, seemingly never-ending search for a full-time gig doing something that will allow me to do things like move out of my parents’ house, buy things I don’t need off Etsy, etcetera. So yesterday I applied for a content editor position that asked me to write something educational and science-y. TO THE RESEARCH. Grow those antlers, bulls. I need to stop.

Perhaps, instead of a slump, we have reached the point in NaNoWriMo where I lose my mind and must accept that things are never going to be the same again.

Dear God help me.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

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.

How to Catch Up On Your Word Count This Weekend | NaNo Talk 2015


Week Two is quickly coming to a close, and something’s not quite right. Your word count. That bar’s just a little below where it should be by now, and honestly, you’re not quite sure what happened. Every day you’ve vowed to crank out 1,667, but “I’ll write a little more tomorrow to make up for only writing a little today” seems to be the pattern your brain and body have preferred instead.

The good news is, the end of Week Two also means the weekend is almost here. It’s not quite the holidays yet and, depending on where you live, the weather’s probably not looking so great anyway. It’s the perfect weekend to spend catching up on all the words you haven’t had the time or energy to write this week.

So how should you go about doing that, exactly? Great question.

Today, focus on what absolutely needs to get done before Monday.

Do you have some emails to send or something to watch/read/finish before Monday comes back around? Don’t put it off any longer: get it done today. The less you have on your mind this weekend, and the shorter your weekend to-do list, the fewer distractions you’ll have when thinking about sitting down to write a few thousand words. Get your groceries, buy a few extra snacks, get some sleep tonight and get ready for a wonderful word-filled weekend ahead.

Plan on staying in (or camping out at a local library or coffee shop).

“I can’t, I’m writing” is a phrase you should be prepared to use a lot this weekend. Don’t worry about missing out: remember, the holidays are upon us. You’ll get your people fix five hundred times over in just one Thanksgiving weekend. For now, don’t plan on going out (or doing anything non-writing related) unless you have to. Plan on settling into your writing nook, your favorite coffee shop or a corner table in the library and dedicating your leisure time to your novel.

Block out an entire morning, afternoon and/or evening and just write like crazy.

It might seem overwhelming at first, and of course you’ll need a few breaks here and there at some point, but if you can, block out a few solid hours at a time and just start writing. Disconnect your wifi, put your headphones in (even if you don’t listen to music while you’re writing) and just write. Once you hit that 500-word mark, you’ll start flying through those words so fast you won’t even realize you’re almost caught up until you are. And if you need to break it up and do the same thing again tomorrow, go for it.

Catching up on word count does require a few minor sacrifices, but it will be worth it. You’ll hopefully end the weekend all caught up and motivated to stay on track as best you can as this next full week begins.

You might feel discouraged and probably not very confident now, but you are in control of your words. You can change that. Good luck!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

NaNoWriMo 2015: So THAT’S Why Writing That Book Took So Long . . .


When I first started writing my previous book (different than the one I’m working on during NaNoWriMo this year), I knew I wanted it to be different. I needed a challenge, which meant I needed to coax myself out of my writing comfort zone and try something new.

So I ended up spending three-and-a-half years writing a YA sci-fi/thriller, the first in an intended series of five books that told the story of five completely ordinary people who end up being recruited to become the leaders of a movement to bring equality to a divided subset of territories.

It’s a lot more complicated than that. But that’s the gist of the first book (sort of).

I do not write sci-fi and I especially do not write in futuristic settings. So while I really enjoyed writing a different kind of story, I really struggled. Sometimes, though I didn’t want to admit it, I wasn’t even really enjoying it. And it took me until now, starting a new book, sprinting back to my contemporary YA roots, to figure out why.

Here are a short excerpt from Premier, the book I just finished last month.

Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 11.57.52 AM

In contrast, here are an excerpt from For Alexander Grace, my current writing project.

Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 11.54.51 AM

Both are very rough drafts still, so take that into consideration before you read on.

Both these scenes have a few things in common, mainly dialogue being the driver of the action, but at least from my point of you, the similarities basically end there. There are first-person narrators in both, but they are two very different people.

The first example, to me, is rushed and dry. Now that could be because I’ve read it at least a hundred times over and it’s taken kind of out of context. I never got the chance to dive as deeply into Lyssa’s character as I wanted to, so she remains a mystery to me even now.

This is not the case with the second example. I know all these characters’ secrets and back stories. I know that Lacey is just putting up a front even though she still loves Derek, I know Derek still loves Lacey but isn’t going to stand for her shenanigans anymore. I know how the narrator really feels about both of her friends and would rather give them both up than have to choose one over the other.

But the biggest difference of all between these two scenes is the voice. My voice.

They say you don’t know your true “writer’s voice” until you start zoning out in the middle of writing something, go back and read what you wrote while you weren’t paying attention. That’s what happens to me a lot as I’m working through (oops, can’t use that acronym) Alexander Grace. That is my voice. That is not just where I am most comfortable, but where I can actually write the best way I can write. Maybe not the best ever written, but my best.

So I’ve solved the mystery. I spent three-and-a-half years not really writing in my own voice. I felt so lost and so out of place not because I can’t write a sci-fi/thriller, but because I wasn’t letting myself tell the story using the voice I should have been using.

I don’t know if, by looking at those two examples, you can tell the difference. But I can, and I’m ecstatic. It means I’m finally back where I belong, and it’s not going to be quite as much of a struggle (though still challenging) to write this book.

And more importantly, it’s not going to take nearly as long to finish this one.

Which means query letters will actually go out at some point, which means maybe, someday, you’ll actually get to read the whole thing.

No promises. But this project is much more promising than the last one, at least.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to Write a Decent Draft in 30 Days or Less | NaNo Talk 2015


Whether you’ve written novels outside of NaNoWriMo before or NaNo is your first novel-writing experience, it’s tough to balance quality with quantity. For everyone. Experienced writers mostly agree that during NaNo, the most important thing is getting the words out: there will be time for editing out all the garbage later.

While this may be true, and no one is actually suggesting you have to write an awful novel during the month of November, part of the experience is feeling like you’re making good progress – not just word-count wise, but that you’re writing something halfway decent. Something you won’t have to completely trash come December.

It’s hard. We know. So we’ve come up with some tips to keep you updating your word count, and feeling good about those words, too.

Carry your novel with you

Google Drive is an excellent free NaNo tool you can use to take your novel with you wherever you go. When brain rush blocks out all thoughts unrelated to your story, you basically have no choice but to write a little just to get it out of your system (good for word count and sanity too, eh?).

But you also have a job, errands, places to go, lines to wait in, everywhere to be except a place where you can pull out your laptop and crank out a few hundred words. Keeping your novel in a Google Doc lets you open it from anywhere – your phone, your tablet, on your lunch break – and if you’re on a roll, 100 words can happen in no time at all. That can add up over the course of just a day.

Mark your mistakes

There’s not always time to fix continuity errors, especially on days you just need to get the words done and move on. But those errors still bug most of us, sometimes to the point where we either have to try and fix them or risk not being able to write well, or at all, because we’re too distracted by that character who just ate an apple even though earlier she said she hates fruit. (It’s the little things, you know?)

Use a highlighting tool or bold or different colored text to mark places you notice you’ve made a mistake. Not only will this help you move on from them now, but it will make editing later a lot easier. And if you are having a rough writing day but still want to spend time with your novel, see if you can fix some of those small things – and maybe add some words in the process.

Find a place to store your ideas

Brain rush (you might use the phrase “plot bunnies” interchangeably in this case) does not usually happen when we need it to, like when we’re sitting at our desks and writing our daily 1,667 is the only thing left we need to get done today. It comes on when we’re trying to fall asleep, driving to work, in the middle of working on something else. It’s inconvenient, but we can’t ignore it.

Especially during November, we need places to store the ideas we can’t get rid of but can’t sit down and write right this second. Sticky notes, voice memos or a similar note-taking method gets the idea out in that moment you can’t do anything with it, and the fear of forgetting it vanishes, too.


You will have days you don’t feel like writing. Maybe you already have (or today is one). What’s important is that you make the decision that’s best for you: write a small amount that you’re going to be able to keep or just write whatever comes to you, even if it’s not good.

Remember, just because your first draft isn’t exactly what you want it to be doesn’t mean it’s “bad.” Writing 50,000+ words in 30 days sounds impossible, and writing 50,000+ good words sounds even more so. But you can do it. YOU CAN DO IT!!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

NaNoWriMo 2015: This Novel Is Everything I’ve Been Afraid to Write


In my newsletter this week I wrote a little about beginnings (T-Swift lyrics may have been mentioned). As you probably already know, I started writing a new book this past weekend. The timing just so happened to line up so that my first new project in over three years began at the same time NaNoWriMo did. My elevator pitch? Kaylee walks into a bookstore, picks up a new release and reads the book dedication. It’s to dedicated to her father, who has been dead for just over a year. The author, who she has never heard of before, isn’t answering her emails.

I’m excited. More than excited. And a little terrified.

This new book is like probably most other NaNo novels I’ve started (and I’ve started eight of them now – I think I’ve actually only ever gone on to finish one or two of them so far). Usually the first few days you’re just burning off all your excitement by writing a bunch of words – I LOVE WRITING I LOVE THIS BOOK I’M GONNA GET IT PUBLISHED!!! This doesn’t last forever, but the first week or so usually my novel is all I think about 24/7.

I’m excited because it’s new and I get to “bond” with new characters and really settle into a more comfortable writing style (I loved my sci-fi experiment but it’s definitely not where I’m most at ease writing-wise). I starting writing YA and I’m not afraid to branch out, but it’s definitely my niche and most of the authors I follow are YA. It’s all-around amazing. Mostly.

The only concern I have is still a good concern in the long run. The problem with working on a novel for three and a half years is you can’t fixate yourself on one story for too long. Toward the end there I really started recognizing how hungry I was for a new writing challenge. I wasn’t challenging myself anymore. I was still in college when I started working on that book and I’ve matured a lot, writing-wise and life experience-wise since then. I knew I was ready to take on something a little different, which was why I went with this idea in particular for NaNo 2015.

I won’t say much more about it other than the short pitch I gave above, but it has some heavy stuff in it. A lot about innocence and growing up, grief, believing what you need to believe to get through the day. There’s a really dark secret that I almost thought about abandoning. But that would be taking the easy way out. You have to do what terrifies you in real life and I think it’s important to act by the same principles in your writing as well.

It will be tough to write, but in a good way. The closer and deeper in I get, I’ll probably get nervous and it won’t be quite as easy to crank out 2,000 words in one sitting as I have the past few days. That’s okay. Writing a novel isn’t supposed to be easy. That’s the whole point of this entire website. Writing isn’t easy. We’re supposed to challenge ourselves, and rejoice when we’re excited and figure out how to push through it when we’re struggling.

I can honestly say this is the best NaNo experience I have had so far. I love being an ML and being able to write about writing to an audience bigger than 2.5 people. Thank you for reading. Write on!

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to Pace Yourself to Avoid “Word Count Burnout” | NaNo Talk 2015


When you’re just starting a new story, emotions and creativity are basically a colorful explosion of glitter and rainbows inside your head (sorry, it’s Monday, I had to reference something sparkly). You just want to write ALL THE WORDS TODAY RIGHT NOW LEGGOOOO!

I know. I’ve been there. Going on eight times now. NaNoWriMo does that to you. Run with your creativity while it’s fresh – do it! But also do what you can to avoid something I like to call “word count burnout” – that empty feeling you get when you accidentally write too many words in one sitting and can’t recover fast enough to keep up your momentum.

Here are a few tips.

First, just get to your daily word count goal.

Generally this is 1,667 words per day (NaNo even gives you a “words you must write today to finish on time” schedule). Whether you write 500 words at a time or are brave (or motivated) enough to crank it all out in one sitting, this should be your focus. The only one you’re racing against is yourself, unless you have a sprint partner, but that’s another story (hahaha novel puns). You choose whether writing is the first or last part of your day, or maybe for you it falls somewhere in-between.

When you hit that goal and you get to a point where you can stop, stand up and take a short break. Get a snack or go for a walk or something. Then come back and reevaluate.

Decide whether or not you want to keep going.

Especially the first few days of NaNo, you might feel really good about your new story. Like, really good. So good you write 2500 words in the first day (not that I know what that’s like or anything). Keep in mind, however, that this won’t be the case for 30 straight days. There’s the 30,000-word slump, which I’m convinced is absolutely a real thing. There’s Thanksgiving, for all my USA readers. There’s that day or two you just won’t feel like doing anything, especially writing. So do you give yourself a buffer, just in case, or try not to go overboard in the beginning?

Honestly, I always go overboard, but that’s not to say a small buffer, such as writing 2,000 words per day instead of 1,667, isn’t a good idea. I’d recommend it. I wouldn’t recommend writing too much in the beginning though. Yesterday I could have kept writing long past 2,500, but I stopped. Why? Because I woke up this morning SO PUMPED to keep writing, and I’m looking forward to it, and that’s the kind of feeling, especially in the beginning, you want to hold onto as long as you can.

A little burnout will happen to everyone, so don’t get discouraged.

There are a lot of things you can do to avoid frying the creative part of your brain, but you’re still going to feel the effects every once in awhile as you move through your story. Writing almost 2,000 words a day is a lot. It’s the same as writing four short blog posts a day or a short report for a class 30 days in a row. It’s a bit more creative and you can do whatever you want with it, but your brain can only handle so much. It will need a little rest here and there.

If there’s a day you’ve written only 300 words and just can’t go any further – stop. Let your brain have its rest. Everybody has their off day (or two, or seven). You will catch up, especially if you give yourself a break now. The closer it gets to the end, the more motivated you might be to write more. I wrote 8,000 words the day I finished my most recent book. Do I recommend that? Uh, no. But I gave myself a deadline on purpose, because I knew, no matter what, I was getting that thing done and putting it to bed.

So go hit your daily goal! I will too, after I write a paper for my marketing class. I’m debating whether or not to have my character write it, but she’s in high school, so having her write a graduate-level paper might not work out so well.

We’ll see.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.