Tips for Navigating the NaNo Blues

We’re sharing our best writing tips this month here on The Debutante Ball, and since this happens to coincide with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short), I thought I’d tailor my advice for the NaNo folks out there.

November is quickly running out and for many writers it’s make or break time. So what do you do if you still have 10-20k left on your word count goal? This was me back in 2018. Thanksgiving was looming and I’d hit a wall with my story. All I wanted to do was eat way too much turkey and pie and roll myself into bed. But despite the tryptophan induced siren song of sleep, I managed to hit– and exceed– the 50,000 word NaNo goal. How?

By following these three tips:

Outline!

Okay I can practically feel half of you shuddering at this thought, but I promise you that outlining doesn’t have to be painful. Inspiration and momentum got you all this way, but now you’re stuck wondering how your next scene should play out.

This is where outlining comes into play. It doesn’t need to be super in-depth, just a simple bullet-style checklist is good enough. If your a completionist-type person, sometimes the simple act of checking things off a list is enough incentive to push you forward and get you through the sticking point.

Remember, this is just a first draft. You are the only person who is going to see this draft. (Seriously, if you start querying in December, I may leap out of this screen and shake you, lol) Give yourself permission to write ugly, and trust in your ability to improve it in later drafts. After all, you can’t edit a blank page.

Take a Break!

Okay, you tried the whole outlining schtick and nothing has shaken loose? What now?? Might be time to take a break. I mean, it’s gonna have to be a small break– you are on a NaNo deadline, after all and doom scrolling on social media isn’t going to do you any favors.

Go take a walk or get a quick workout in. Read a book that you love, or watch the latests hit t.v. show on Netflix. It may feel like a wast of time (and if you spend a whole day doing it–it is!) but sometimes your brain just needs time to solve problems without you getting in the way.

Fast-Forward!

If all else fails, its time to fast-forward. No one said your novel has to be written in chronological order. So if writer’s block really has you in the dumps, give yourself permission to hop around.

Middles are notoriously difficult, so if you need to skip ahead, do it. We all have scenes that we simply can’t wait to tackle. Consider this your permission slip to go for it!

NaNo is supposed to be a challenge, but it’s also meant to be fun. Seize the joy in writing and dive in!

 

Good luck!

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Greta Kelly is (probably) not a witch, death or otherwise, but she can still be summoned with offerings of too-beautiful-to-use journals and Butterfingers candy. Though she has travelled across the world, including brief stints living in Germany and Japan, life always kept bringing her back home to the Midwest. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband EJ, daughter Lorelei and a cat who may, or may not, control the weather. Her debut novel, The Frozen Crown, is forthcoming from Harper Voyager.

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