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NaNoWriMo Type Along with Stephen Deas – The Finish

Follow along as Stephen Daes shares his week by week experience doing NaNoWriMo.

If you missed Stephen’s intro article, you can read it here.

If you missed any of the previous weeks you can read them here:

week one, week twoweek three, and week four.

November 30th

Wordcount target: 100,000
Words written: 75,664

Imagination by kelleybean86Completion anxiety is the weirdest thing. Where does it come from? I’ve noticed that as I approach the end, I find myself mentally looking back over what I’ve written, judging it against what I’ve written before and finding it wanting. Which of course it is, being a first draft. Then there’s the point at which I absolutely know what happens for the rest of the story. That usually happens as I’m leading up to the final climax. It comes with a sense of wanting to move on to the next story because in the next one I don’t know what happens yet.

So I spent the whole of the last week of November doing all sorts of other things. I’ve outlined the next novel that I’m due to write. I’ve done copyedits on the Sekkrit Project. I’ve finally finished Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and got around to making a dent in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (yes, I am that many years behind the rest of the world). All good stuff, but all of it procrastination too.

So watch out for the completion anxiety monster. I’ve noticed I get this much more acutely in stories with one central character, perhaps because with an ensemble cast there’s always a bit more uncertainty as to which way the characters are going to jump at the very end. Dragon Queen, for example, had three different endings during the course of its writing. Same scene but it went three different ways before I settled on a final outcome but it probably bites different people in different ways.

Instruments of Truth by Deborah DeWitI don’t know how you deal with it. I’ve tried not finishing the first draft and leaving to the second draft to write the last five thousand words or so. What happened then was that I had the same problem again and left it to the third draft. It really wasn’t a clever idea. It didn’t get easier second or third time around. And every time when I’ve pushed through to the end and finally finished, the relief and the sense of achievement has arrived as it should.

I think your best to bulldoze through it however you can (which is what I did a couple of days later). Set aside a day and set up that day to give you as much quality writing time as you can and tell yourself that you’re getting it done, right there and then. I know first-hand how much easier that is to say than to do but I’m afraid I don’t know another way. It doesn’t matter if your ending is a bit rushed and a bit scrappy, if you wrap things up in slightly the wrong order–this is a first draft and you will fix these things in the rewrites. Just end it.

NaNo is over for another year. Pat yourselves on the back for what you’ve written and don’t stop. They say you have to write a million words before you get competent. I suspect that’s bullshit but it is about what I wrote before The Adamantine Palace was published. If you do NaNo once a year then that’s twenty years. If you do it every month, it’s not even two.

Good luck.

Title image by Deborah DeWit.



  1. Avatar Jennavier says:

    I have that so bad and I just felt a weirdo. It means that I blow through my endings and they’re almost indistinguishable from the rest of the novel. Like I’m running a marathon and just fall over at the finish line instead of running past it. I’m glad to hear that it’s a thing because that means that other people have gotten past it.

    • Avatar Stephen Deas says:

      Yeah. Most of the problems I face with writing are pretty common, I suspect, but if I don’t hear about it, I end up thinking it’s just me and then doing lots of teeth-gnashing. I suspect that goes for a lot of life in general.

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