Writing: NaNoWriMo, The Third Week

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”- Harlan Ellison

It is almost the end of week three. I wish I could say at this point that things have gotten easier, that my writing is going smoother, and every word I type is pure gold. I don’t need to point out that none of these things are true, right? I have produced one scene that I think is objectively “pretty good” and a lot of stuff that is on the “meh” scale and one or two things that made me pull a face even as I was typing them up. I was encouraged though when I read a post from a published NaNo author (whose website I immediately forgot to bookmark and therefore am paraphrasing) talking about the changes from her rough NaNo draft to the final book ““ which wasn’t ready for over another year. So I was reminded, again, that I am not married to the words I have written in this race. I am writing to write and to hit my word count. Revision is for December (and January, February, March”¦)

Chris Batty, the former head the Office of Letters and Light and author of No Plot? No Problem!, says that week three is the distraction week. It’s when the ideas for other fantastic novels start brewing ““ novels that you’re not currently writing that sound far more exciting than whatever you’re slogging through at the moment. I haven’t found myself having ideas for “novels that could be,” but I do find myself getting distracted by the burgeoning back stories of the events in the novel I am working on. I suppose this is a related problem. It’s nice to feel like I’m fleshing out the bones, but the temptation to linger on this suddenly, intensely fascinating part of the novel can be disruptive. I made my notes and am back in the main timeline. Go forward momentum! Rah rah!

I’m maintaining a steady pace of about 2 days behind schedule. I have my eye on the last two weekends for a solid catch up and have not yet started panicking over the possibility of not finishing in time.

Now it’s your turn, fellow writers. How’s NaNo going for you?

Fun stuff ““ Write or Die There are some days where I think that I need to go more low-tech in my writing because I am one easily distracted hack. If I remember correctly, you can’t surf the web on a typewriter. My notebook does not stream Netflix. But I’m a laptop writer, and despite the handle toggle switch that turns off my Wi-Fi, I rarely use it. I do use the website Write or Die, because I’m a nerd and I like that I can tell this program that I want to solidly write 600 words in 30 minutes. And when I spend too much time staring off into the distance, the site gently flashes a warning light, and when I don’t pay attention and get back to writing, it emits an obnoxious shriek that can only be shut off when I start typing again.  Focus or pay the price!

Bonus Tracks: Actual, tangible novels that began life as a NaNoWriMo project:


By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

14 replies on “Writing: NaNoWriMo, The Third Week”

All the great ideas for other novels, indeed!

I’m on 31k and all my characters are in a ditch right now. Which makes me a bit depressed and not eager to continue writing. Someone told me to give one of them at least a glimpse of possibility, which helped a bit. But really, I think the last 20k might be harder than the first one.

This is definitely slog week for me. I made the mistake of having a social life earlier in the week, so I’m currently about a day behind, word-count-wise. I can make it up at the weekend, but I do feel I’m running out of steam a little bit.

I’m doing good word-count wise, but I’m worried about Thanksgiving. The number of people in my house is going to go from 3 to 8 for a few days, and I don’t really like writing in public spaces. Plus there is all the cleaning and cooking.




I was worried I wasn’t going to have enough plot to get me to 50k, but then I went back and read my notes for stuff I’d skipped, and there are some pretty essential “how the heck did we get from point A to point B?” questions still to be answered. I have no idea how to answer them, yet, but I’m not gonna run out of holes to fill.

Hmm. One year I wrote in the garage for this very reason; first thing in the morning and late at night are also key quiet times. Bring a space heater if you venture into unheated solitary regions of your home. If there’s no garage possibility, consider semi-private public spaces like library nooks, less popular coffee shops (+ headphones?), or even houses of worship that are open regularly. (If there’s no service going on, they might not mind if you sit in the back and write for a while; just ask? They’re likelier to be open over the holidays than the library, come to that.) And recruit help from your visitors on the cooking & cleaning. Light stuff; no one needs to be scrubbing your toilet for you, but everyone can help with dishes and tossing salad.

I mentioned in the first post that I had a crazy house full of people. I’m lucky that no one is coming in for Thanksgiving, so I guess the trade off was worth it.

What ended up working for me:

Long stretches of being out was not going to cut it with lots of guests. But can you steal away for a couple of 20 or 30 minute stretches? Try and get a focused 20 minute writing session going and do what you can to keep up with your word count.

Meghan’s garage writing suggestion is a great idea — I personally just can’t write at home, I get too distracted, so my suggestion of hiding at the local public library probably won’t work for you. But it is an option and libraries tend to have a lot of people writing and studying at them, so you wouldn’t stick out.


Good luck!

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