This post was originally published in 2008. Some dated references may have been changed. You can view the original version here.
It’s an amazing feeling, isn’t it? Being here at week 4. Finally looking down the end stretch that was previously a distant, elusive dream. By now some of you have quit. Some decided Nano was too hard. Some decided it wasn’t right for them, or maybe, they fell so far behind that recovery was impossible.
But some of you are still writing. Still plugging away. All month long you battled those voices that told you to give up, that it was too hard, that your writing utterly sucked. This week, those voices are going to chime in again. They’ll say, "Haven’t you proved your point? Haven’t you done enough? Take a break. Take a breath. You can finish the thing later."
There’s something about seeing the finish line that makes you realize how far you’ve come, and how tired you are. But seriously. Did you get this far just to stop? If you don’t finish your novel now, you may never finish. If you give up now, it will kill all the confidence you’ve gained up to this point.
Remember last week when I told you to shoot for 30k? By 35k, you’ll hit your third wind. After that it’s a nice coast to the finish line. So don’t give up until you have reached that 35k, because once you get going you won’t want to stop.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few final tips for the upcoming week.
If possible, take things slower than on previous weeks. In No Plot? No Problem! Chris Baty urges participants to use this final week as a time of contemplation. Also, if you haven’t been working in sprints, begin doing so now. Write for 15 minutes, then take a 5-10 minute break to stretch and flex.
Over the holidays, explain to family members that you’ll be working on a demanding project. Set aside chunks of writing time and promise to come back when you’re done. Then, stick to that promise – people will respect your needs if you respect theirs.
Finish the novel by November. This means, “write your ending by November,” not “write every scene by November.” Trying to write an ending after the fact can be a huge struggle. So, focus on major plot points and gloss over everything else. One woman in No Plot? No Problem! said she had to summarize 20k in a couple of days to get her ending down. That’s okay. You can always come back for these filler scenes later.
Conversely, if you are running out of material before the magic number 50,000, go back over your notes for forgotten plot points. Write any boring scenes you may have skipped. Invent a new character – or kill one. Have fun info-dumping. The point is, get some bulk. You can clean up the story afterwards.
One final time, thank you for reading, and good luck!