2 Days to NaNoWriMo: Quit While You’re Ahead

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2 Days to NaNoWriMo: Quit While You’re Ahead

Going into NaNoWriMo, the temptation will be to write as much as you possibly can each day. It makes sense, right? You’re trying to write as many words as quickly as possible, so if you’ve got more fuel in the tank once you’ve hit your daily goal of 1,000 or 2,000 words, why not use it? Get down as many words and as much of the story so that you can meet your ultimate goal.

I am here to tell you not to do that. My advice—and the advice of many, many writers with more skill and wisdom than me—set a target number of words, write until you reach that goal, and then stop. Some stop mid-sentence (see Graham Greene, who stopped at 800 words exactly); others stop in the vicinity of their target, when they’ve completed a scene, say. But the idea is to resist the dizzying lure of writing even more.

“But I’m writing in a white heat! I don’t want to stop! I want to finish this section!” That is precisely when you should stop. Why?

Because the next day, you will know what comes next.

You’ll sit down to your work and know the next page or two or four because you already had them in mind. And by the time you reach the end of what you’d had in mind yesterday, your head and momentum will have given you the beginnings of new material. Stopping after a your target number of words ensures that you never write to the end of your inspiration and face that dreaded blank page. You leave your desk having prepared yourself for the next day’s work.

It’s just one reliable method writers have found to make it easier to re-enter the fictive dream of the manuscript. And any trick you can do to ease that transition during the month-long hustle of NaNoWriMo should be embraced like a much-loved helper come to carry you over the finish line.

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