Taking the #NaNoWriMo pressure off.

I finished! I completed NaNoWriMo last night, 12 days ahead of schedule. But the story is far from done. I have a minimum of another 10,000 words to write, and I hope to get them done by the end of this week. Then, back on to Unforgiving Plains. I also received the next batch of Heart Like an Ocean chapters from my editor. Everything is going really smoothly on that front, and we are nearly done with the edits! But all this isn't what this post is about because, lets face it, I never take pressure off myself. I'm just go,go, go like the energizer bunny. haha On Monday the 12th of November, just shy of halfway through NaNo, I got a message from B. He was reducing his personal goal to 40,000. After starting out behind he had been unable to catch up and he didn't see the finish line of 50,000 words on his horizon.

Countless NaNo-ers go through this exact scenario. Let's be honest. NaNoWriMo is not easy. Sure, there are some people that have no issues with it, this year I'm one  of them, but I've had my share of struggles with NaNo in the past.   All it takes is one bad day to fall behind, and suddenly you've lost the same oomph you started with. So how do you climb out of this proverbial pit and get back on track instead of quitting?

Back to November, 12th.

After struggling with his word count for the last 12 days, B finally said enough. He wasn't calling it quits, but he'd also realized that he couldn't keep going with the pressure of 50,000 words weighing down on him, and lets face it; 50,000 words in 30 days is a huge goal for a first novel. So he took that pressure off. He said, no, it's not the word count that matters. It's the fact that I've written something. And that's what NaNo is all about.

But then something happened. Take a look at his progress bar:

On day 15 he had a jump of 5,000 words! And guess what . . . his goal is now back up to 50,000 words. Sure, he's not completely caught up, but taking the pressure off enabled him to write without any inhibitions, and pull out a 5,000 word day.

Sometimes all you need is to take the pressure off and suddenly the words start flowing. You feel invigoration again and ready to take on NaNo with a whole new  fervor. I'm not saying just forget it and write when you feel like it, but reduce your goal to a more manageable word count for you.

This doesn't work for everyone. There is no one solution for getting through NaNo when the going gets tough. But look at B. He started out behind right from day 1 and he was just unable to close that gap. In fact, the gap grew. But as soon as he took that pressure off himself his word count jumped.  He still has a ways to go, but even if he doesn't reach 50,000 words he'll still reach his personal goal of 40,000.

The one thing people lose sight of with NaNoWriMo is that it's not the word count that matters, it's the fact that you put pen to paper and started that novel. NaNo is an event that forces you to start, and teaches you to write a little every day. If you write 200 words  a day you won't reach 50,000 words in 30 days, but you'll still succeed.

Are you participating in NaNo this year? Is it going well? Or maybe you're just hearing about it for the first time and are thinking about giving it a try next year. I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

Oh, and Congratulations to J, who reached the 50,000 word finish line on Novemeber 15th!