I am admittedly not a huge fan of NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month). In the early days of my writing journey I participated a few times, completed once, and through it all wrote some of the most gawd-awful prose you’ve ever (never will) read. *grins and winks*
But the thing I do like about NaNo is the way it pushes writers to finish. Granted, 50,000 words isn’t anywhere close to an actual novel, but in some cases it’s the thought that counts, the accomplishment that matters.
The end of a manuscript is such a strange zone. There’s a rush, an exhilaration which accompanies spilling out the last few chapters onto the page. You want it over and done. At the same time you’re dragging your feet, not wanting it to end. It’s a weird paradox – this push and pull over finishing and not finishing.
It’s this feeling that can often trip up new writers. This is the point where you start looking for other things to do. Where new ideas call your name with promises of excitement and adventure and it’s so hard to resist that siren’s song.
You have to push through that hesitation. This is the test. This is the moment where you can choose to follow through on what you’ve started, or let that shiny new idea drag you off the path.
It’s easy to be distracted. Harder to refocus yourself and finish the ending. This is really the most important point of your story and not the time to be skimping, rushing through, or otherwise neglecting your manuscript. You’ve spent a lot of time and energy on the beginning and middle, fixing the plot, setting up conflict, and letting the readers get to know the characters. Now is not the time to drop the ball and rush through the ending.
I feel like I’m throwing out a lot of trite phrases here, but bear with me as I’m lacking in caffeine this morning. *laughs* I do really have a point.
So how do you get through these crossroads? How to ignore the shiny, overcome the blahs, and finish up this manuscript you’ve worked so hard on?
There’s really no secret to this. You put your butt in your chair and your hands on the keyboard. You write. It might suck. It might take you an hour for a paragraph, days for a chapter, but you keep writing. You keep writing until you type – The End.
I don’t do NaNo anymore, because as I said I felt like the focus on getting to the end was too much and the product I was putting out was more focused on quantity of words than the quality. That’s where you really have to put the work in, once you’ve accomplished that hurdle of finishing you can focus on the more important tasks – like polishing your manuscript until it shines.
What about you, readers? Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? What do you do as writers to get through that dreaded dead zone of finishing up a novel?