Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Notes From the Field: NaNoWriMo Week Three

So tell me how you’re doing this week? Are characters running amok? Have they rebelled against you and are now making their own decisions? Do you find yourself drinking copious amounts of wine and mumbling to yourself as they scamper across the page?

You are not alone.


At this point, you have hopefully put the worst of it behind you. Maybe a character or three has taken off on their own, but if you follow them, they can lead you to a better plot. You may have experienced a few tangents and had a tough time dragging yourself through week two, but never fear, you are past the midway point now and it is a downhill slide from here.

This is the week where you want to get rid of any word count deficits. There is nothing worse than playing catch-up the entire last week of NaNo! Trust me, I have done it both ways, and it is much more fun to be ahead of the word count as you round the final stretch than to know you have to write 3/4 of your book in the last five days.

Do not let holidays derail your writing. If you are in the US, you most likely have some sort of family obligation next week for Thanksgiving. DO NOT volunteer to host Thanksgiving dinner! DO NOT volunteer to bring anything other than items that do not require prep work – wine, a can of cranberries, perhaps some steam-in-the-bag veggies. This is not the month to show your inner Julia Child. You have a novel to write. Invite the family to your house for Christmas to make up for it.

At this point, you should find yourself about halfway through your story. It isn’t mandatory that you write a complete story this month, just 50,000 words, but the momentum of a complete story sometimes makes it an easier goal to achieve. If your characters aren’t doing anything interesting yet, sit down and have a little chat with them. Throw them off a cliff and see what they do. Have them round a corner and come face to face with a fire-breathing dragon. Yes, do this even if you are not writing a fantasy. It can be explained away as a hallucination in the next chapter.

Ignore the nay-sayers. There will be folks who cannot believe you are attempting this. Nor will they believe that you have stuck with it this long. Ignore them. They are just jealous of your writerly chops.

If you are already fretting about this messy little novel being seen by anyone, you must banish this type of thinking. It will only hold you back as you approach the final week. Make a promise that you will destroy your novel the second after you have had your word count verified. (But please, don’t!)

Keep writing! You can do this!

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