How I pulled myself out of a NaNoWriMo Lull

Today was a bad day, writing-wise. We’re on day two of NaNoWriMo, and I was spitting fire on day one. Over 2,000 words on the first day is a good way to start. I knew I’d burn out eventually, but I was feeling good.

Today I hit a slump. It’s not that I didn’t want to write. It’s just that I knew what was happening in the story, and this was going to be a boring bit. I mean, all stories are peaks and valleys. You have new, exciting things, full of plot twists and gunfights and dramatic heart-wrenching breakups. But then you have the lulls in between, where you set people up for the next big peak.

I hit a lull. On day two, I hit a lull. That fundamentally sucks, and it kills my wordcount. Again, I had no problem sitting down and writing, I just didn’t like what I had to write next, so I couldn’t get the motivation to start.

Then I realized two things, which totally saved me, in different ways:

1) I don’t have to write that bit right now. If the lull bores me, just skip over it, and go for the good bits. When I hit the end of the book, and I still need to flesh it out for a NaNoWriMo wordcount, I can go back to lulls like this and fill them in while I’m bleary and not giving a damn whether it’s exciting or not.

In fact, screw the lulls. If there’s a part of the story I don’t want to write, it’s a good bet that it’s a part of the story nobody’s going to want to read. I’ve got my hero in location A, he needs to be in Location B. Rather than describing how he packs up his stuff, waits for the bus and thinks about (love interest to be named later), sits on the bus and waits until he gets to the right stop, then walks three blocks to Location B (because they never have the bus stops where you really need them, do they?). Rather than doing all that, I just write the sentance, “Then hero hopped on a bus and went to Location B.”

Chances are, the lull in the story would feel like a pause for the reader, and a pause is a good place to put a book down and go do the dishes or start that really good book that your friend was talking about. So, lulls do nothing for either the reader or the writer. Skip them, and get back to the exciting stuff.

2) Even better. Don’t let it be a lull. Everything that happens can be exciting, all we need to do is add conflict. Hero has to get on a bus? Okay. Did I mention that he has an irrational fear of diesel fumes? Or that he has to get to Location B in the next ten minutes or (love interest to be named later) will suffer a violent, tragic and unnecessarily long death? Did I mention that the bus has been hijacked by Mutant Nazi Kittens?

Okay, that may be stretching it. Not everybody can slot Mutant Nazi Kittens into their story without throwing off the narrative a bit. But you get the idea. Find an element of conflict to keep the hero, and the reader, interested, nervous, anxious, and involved. Remember, boredom is the enemy. Not just for you, but for the reader as well.

Anyway, that’s how I managed to get 700 words done this morning, while I was stuck in a lull.

Flattr this!


  1. Good tip, thanks!

  2. Advice I’ll definitely tuck away for when needed. Thanks!

  3. That was awesome, anyone who can slot Mutant Nazi Kittens into there story is a real writer in my book. Great job. thanks for the kick in the shorts.

  4. Yeah. I made the mistake last year of trying to write the things that I didn’t want to. NOT HAPPENING THIS TIME. Hand Waving Bus Rides FTW!

  5. The only thing I hate more than reading a boring story is writing one.

  6. Great advice. I think it’s going to help me get past my own lull.

    BTW, my husband would insist that there’s nothing irrational about a fear of diesel fumes.

    • He he. I think your husband would agree that there’s a healthy level of fear regarding diesel fumes. . . but I think there’s an extreme version which could seem irrational. 🙂

  7. Omg I totally hit a lull. And this is totally what I needed to read to figure my way out of it. Thanks!

    • Wonderful! You have no idea how gratifying it is to know that this was able to help you out!

  8. Great advice. I realized a while back, I not only don’t need to write EVERY part of the story, but I shouldn’t. I’ve been trying to learn how to skip the boring bits and only write the exciting stuff. I think it’s a skill I’m getting better at, but I still have a lot to learn. How will I get better? Keep writing. See you at the finish line on the 30th! Thanks for the cool post.