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  • Writer's pictureVendela Ahlström

The Soggy Middle of NaNoWriMo

So we all know about the soggy middle. How we trudge through the midpoint or the middle section of our drafts. How amazing it feels when we get out on the other end.

Well, who would have known there’s a soggy middle to NaNoWriMo? You know, around that 25k mark, or around November 15th?

I’ve been pretty much ahead of schedule the entirety of NaNoWriMo. This, to me, is insane! I’ve never succeeded with NaNo before. This is my third time attempting the challenge and this time I’m equipped, not only with a super detailed plot, but with amazing accountability buddies between 8am and 10am every morning. My 1667 words are written during that time and that’s the way I’ve been able to stay on track. I’ve been on fire!

But then around the November 11th I reached 25k - let’s pop open the champagne! And over the following weekend my productivity went down. I’m starting to think the whole soggy middle thing is not about your plot being slow around this time, but the fact that you’ve reached about halfway through the story/draft and go, Oh, f**k, I’m closer to the end now than the beginning.

There’s a sense of achievement and thinking I can relax now, while also being filled with dread because now it’s almost over and I’ve only just found the voice of my characters.

Now, 25k is not halfway through the story for me. Not even close. I reckon 50k will be halfway through the novel for me. Which is why my NaNo project is basically Project Codex Part 1.

But the 25k mark is still the middle of the this current deadline (50k by the end of November) and so I can’t help but think that maybe I’m scared of reaching the end (the middle), or I’m getting super lazy because I feel like I’m basically done (I’m nowhere near done).

I realise this post is just a ramble. A sort of journal entry of how NaNo is going so far. I guess, I just felt a little empty around 25k. I suddenly wrote less in more time and what I wrote felt worse than what I’d written up until that point. I found myself in the debate section of the first act which is kinda my least favourite section to write. Everything was just kinda soggy.

And so I couldn’t help but thinking that perhaps there is no soggy middle of manuscripts per se. But rather a soggy middle of projects in general. A soggy middle of deadlines.

I’m not getting anywhere with this post, I’m realising, but there you go. It’s the November 15th and these are my mid-NaNo thoughts.

I’ve posted a screenshot to show my progress for NaNo so far. Now, I realise I’m ahead of schedule and this is not an outlet for me to show off. But it’s that slight plateau around November 12th that stresses me out.

I’m a ridiculous overachiever, which is both a blessing and a curse, but mostly a source of anxiety. I started writing 2000 words per day rather than 1667 and so naturally, instead of treating myself to a day off for being ahead of schedule, 2000 words per day started to become my own personal goal for NaNo, even though I didn’t need it. Which is ridiculous and honestly, unfair on myself. On November 13th I barely got 200 words written and that crushed me. If I managed to write 4700 words on November 8th, then I should always be able to do so, like I’m some freaking super human/writer. Which is totally unrealistic and unnecessary.

So while this graph looks very satisfying in some ways, it’s also incredibly annoying and frustrating to look at. It’s that stupid, soggy middle I’m talking about. That plateau.

I guess the moral of the story (does there always have to be a moral of the story?) is that it’s okay to reach a soggy, unmotivated section in the middle of NaNo. I don’t know if it’s common. I just know I experienced it, and if anyone else feels the same way, here’s a blog post to tell you, you’re not alone. And if you’re an overachiever that beats yourself up about not producing or performing more than you actually have to, then this post is for you too.

Remember that no-one is telling you to do NaNoWriMo. And there is no such thing as “loosing” at NaNoWriMo.

Cheers to soggy middles!

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