I had no idea that week 2 pf NaNoWriMo is notorious for drop-outs, never having attempted it before, but I could feel that it was a tough week. After the initial buzz of enthusiasm and motivation, writing gets harder. I have amassed many half-written stories over the years, of varying lengths. It's hard to keep going when you're not doing NaNoWriMo, let alone when you're under the pressure of producing 50.000 words in a month. You begin to realise that you've no idea where your plot is going, you lose confidence in your ideas, your characters seem flat and writing becomes such a chore that you develop an inexplicalbe urge to clean the bathroom.
I'm still plugging away at my novel, but it's been difficult. Here are some of my survival strategies:
1. Some words are better than no words
I was disheartened earlier this week, because I'm not on target. I had aimed to write 2,000 words a day, to get ahead in case I have some bad days towards the end of the month, but I haven't even reached the 1667 words needed to be on track. However, I have written over 19,000 words. If I hadn't started NaNoWriMo, I would have zero. That's an achievement - if you write anything, it trumps writing nothing.
2. Have fun with the NaNoWriMo.org stat page
I love the graph that shows how close you are to the target - it proves that I have actually written some words and I'm usually closer to the target than I imagine I am. I also find the 'words per day to finish on time' stat incredibly motivating. I might feel like I'm miles behind, but the extra words per day I need to write isn't that much - I think I'll have to write less than 100 words more than the target, which isn't a lot.
3. Write crap
I would love to write brilliant prose off the bat, but it's unrealistic. Writing crap might not be what you had in mind when you pictured yourself as A Writer, but I always say it's easier to rewrite and edit crap writing than a blank page. Besides, NaNoWriMo is more about getting into the habit of writing than producing a perfect novel in a month - which I doubt anyone does.
4. Block out your inner critic
It's easier said than done, but ignore the voices in your head that say your novel is awful and you might as well not bother. Writing 50,000 words in a month is intensive enough, so don't you dare think about going over what you've written. Not even to remind yourself of the plot - you don,t need to. Just scribble stuff you need to remember in a notebook and refer to that if you forget where a secondary character works or when something happens to your protagonist. You can sort out continuity and other problems when you're rewriting, so forget about them for now.
5. Take a break!
NaNoWriMo is so intensive that you will spend a lot of your waking hours thinking about your novel and its progress. Make an effort to get away from it at least once a day. If you find your mind wanders when you're reading or watching TV, do something that requires total concentration. I find exercise useful for this - I'm not very fit and need to push myself, so I'm too busying thinking 'I hurt' and 'when can I stop?' to think about my novel!