For Writers – NaNoWriMo’s Mushy Middle


We’re officially halfway through NaNoWriMo, and I’m sure many of you are starting to experience the mushy middle of both November and your novel. Here are some ways to conquer those doldrums and survive until you get your second wind.

  • Assess the timeline of your novel. What scenes are still missing? Where are your gaps or plot holes? Have any minor characters disappeared halfway through? Write the things that need to happen onto a checklist so that you can easily see what’s left.
  • Running out of ideas? Throw something (or someone) random into your novel to see how your characters react. A legendary hero. An unexpected letter. A talking snake. A lost wallet. It may not make it into the final novel, but doing something unexpected can often shake up your creativity.
  • Running out of energy to write? How long have you been sitting in that chair? Your body might need a break from nonstop NaNo action. Take a walk, clean your writing space, sleep, talk to a human, have some pizza… just keep away from computer screens for awhile. Doing something else will give your brain time to air out and fill up with new ideas.
  • Having procrastination problems? Use NaNoWriMo’s Word Sprint Timers to help curb your time-wasting tenancies. If you set up a Group Word Sprint, you can even have the timer count down to a set time, giving you just enough time to scroll through Twitter before jumping in for another 15 minutes of focus time.
  • Blank pages and word count widgets getting you down? Take a break from the computer and try writing in a notebook for a little while. The change of pace works better than you might think, and typing in your notes later feels super productive.
  • Having trouble with your characters? Take some time to write a bio about your problem characters. Include details about their relationships with other characters, their flaws and strengths, their habits, what they believe in/morals, how they deal with stress, their greatest fears, their dreams/goals, and a list of the main scenes in which they appear in the novel. If you haven’t fixed them, at least you’ll have increased your word count for the day!
  • Just plain old hating your novel? This is really common during NaNo, but it’s not a sign that your novel is bad. Stick to writing scenes that you’re excited about or characters you enjoy/easily relate to. Also, be sure to include some of your own personal favorite things into your story. Adding a scene about strudel, whiskers on kittens, or brown paper packages tied up with strings might just make a difference.
  • That Sound of Music reference brings us neatly to the last suggestion, which is to take a break and watch a favorite movie or read a really good book. Reminding yourself how much you love a good story will be better NaNoWriMo motivation for you than reading an incredibly helpful blog post or hammering your head against the desk for another two hours.


Add to the list! What NaNoWriMo side effects have been plaguing you?
Buddy me on NaNoWriMo if you want to follow my progress or join in on group word sprints!


It’s not too late! Seriously, you can still take part in NaNoWriMo even halfway through the month. Start your writing journey at today.

4 thoughts on “For Writers – NaNoWriMo’s Mushy Middle

  1. Thanks for sharing! I can relate to the whole “Just Plain Old Hating Your Novel” thing. I think many writers can relate on being a bit of a perfectionist – I know all my mistakes and I think that’s what is really bringing me down. I’m glad I found this, thanks!


    1. Keep pushing though! I’m sure there will be more that you like about your novel than parts you don’t once you’re looking at it with fresh, rested eyes. NaNoWriMo is not the time to be judging our own work 😵


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