It never fails. Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNo or simply your own timed writing challenge, the middle is always the hardest part. If this is your first Camp NaNoWriMo, you may have heard the campfire stories of mid-month boogie monsters that capture your plot bunnies, steal your enthusiasm, and sneak up on you just when you thought things were going well. They’re frustrating but, believe us, they can be beaten!
It’s common to feel discouraged when you’re halfway through these challenges; the excitement of a new project has worn off in the past 15 days, yet the end is still another 15 away. Suddenly, you find yourself feeling more lost than anything. That’s okay, and that’s normal! Maybe your story isn’t going as well as you’d hoped, or maybe it’s going great—so great that you’ve run with it and written yourself into uncharted territory. Whatever your reasons are, you likely aren’t feeling as confident about this as you did on April 1st. But I’m here to tell you to toss another log in that fire and scare those shadows away.
There are several ways to get yourself back on track and finish strong. Try these methods out and see if they work for you!
- Just push through it. This is the tough love approach and I know it isn’t easy. Take it from me—we’re halfway through and I’ve only written a few hundred words! But sometimes all your writing needs is a little teeth-gritting determination. When those monsters of the night threaten to scare away your inspiration, scare them right back by holding your ground! Some ways this has worked for me include fleshing out whatever scene I’m on—even if it’s totally unnecessary to do so—or skipping to another part of the story that I’m eager to write. Both methods get the words flowing and keep you from cowering behind that blinking cursor.
- Attend the virtual Camp NaNoWriMo Write-In tomorrow. Hosted on the NaNoWriMo YouTube account, virtual write-ins provide an opportunity to grab some inspiration, motivation, and support without leaving your writing cave—or tent! The next one is tomorrow at 11am PDT, so translate that to your time zone and join in!
- Schedule your own write-in! I’ve spoken before about the benefit of write-ins and, while organized write-ins are more common during November, there’s always an opportunity to host your own. Start a #SprintParty on Twitter, host one on a YouTube channel, or simply invite some writing buddies out for a few competitive sprints over coffee! If you’re anything like us, your hunger for word count glory will override that mid-month writer’s block under pressure, and you’ll soon find yourself writing away toward your word count goal.
- Reach out on Twitter/cabin mates. I have a confession: I almost quit two thirds of the way through NaNoWriMo this year. I was hitting that block somewhere in the third week and was falling behind, and I wanted to give myself permission to quit if I didn’t think winning was feasible. Thankfully, my friends weren’t going to let that happen! Taylor and Faye gave me some really great pep talks and even rallied what seemed like half of Twitter to shout all kinds of encouraging (and playfully threatening!) things at me. If you need similar motivation, simply announcing your struggles via a popular hashtag (like #CampNaNoWriMo or #AmWriting) is guaranteed to earn you a few encouraging words.
- Start from zero. Of course, I don’t mean start your project from scratch! But as I said in my post on starting from zero, sometimes it can be helpful to take a step back, take stock, and reorganize your project. This is especially helpful if you’re written yourself into a road block: instead of trying to push through it if it doesn’t seem to be giving, map out your story on a sheet of paper and figure out where you’ve been, where you’re stuck, and where you have to go. Even if you aren’t the outlining type, simply reminding yourself of your ultimate goal with that particular story can be incredibly helpful!
How do you power through that rough midpoint? Everyone has a different process, from NaNoNewbies to seasoned wordsmiths. Let us know how you battle those mid-month boogie monsters in the comments below!