The second week started off strong. Having a blast with romance, I participated in my first live NaNoWriMo Write-In and I did over 1k words in an hour. My keyboard was blazing. I was invincible. And then something important came up and I missed a day. I’m rocking this, I thought. I’ll write extra tomorrow to keep my lead.

No worries, because I was ahead of schedule, remember? I could afford to miss a day. Then, something came up the second night and I missed a second day. But I’m really only one day behind, I reasoned. I’d been a day ahead before.

Third night I realized I had double the writing to do. I’d worked all day, one of my kids needed to talk. I squeezed in a quarter of what I needed to accomplish and limped through a third day of writing. Having soared too close to the sun, I pouted as I plummeted to earth. Why do I do these crazy things to myself, I thought. Who am I to write a romance anyway?

Fourth night was another long day at work. We have so many people out, my super-part-time job has gotten intense. I was tired and depressed. I calculated out what my word count needed to be the next day and, not being a math-er, somehow got three different answers to my problem. Math is stupid, and so am I for trying to do this, I snarled. I’m a failure at life.

Fifth morning I had two days off in a row. I woke up, downed coffee and started typing for dear life. I worked all day, off and on. I drank far too much coffee. I looked for excuses to do anything else. By evening I recalculated how short I was—less than 2,000 words behind! I can do this, I thought. I can catch up and stay on track from here.

Sixth morning, another long slog but I was hopeful. I had coffee, went on a walk with the dogs and Ryan and buckled in to work. Piles of leaves beckoned to me outside. My Pokemon Go app needed to be restarted and I got sidetracked by cleaning out my inbox… but I’d force myself back. Lucky for me I finally reached a part I’d been excited for since day one and I sped forward and caught up, at least for today.

I’m still off track over all, as you can see in my progress graph but I have hopes that I can get some extra words in this next week when things promise to slow down. If I stay at this pace I’m on track to have 50,000 words done by December 3rd. I can live with that, but I still have high hopes I’ll finish ahead of schedule or go over wordcount (if the story calls for it).

I love where the story is going and see no reason not to publish this next February (after edits and clean up, of course). That’s the important thing. Pushing myself for 30 days to write something I can work with—setting up habits that put my writing back at the top of my To Do list. In spite of everything, still here… still tapping.

And if I keep tapping, tomorrow I should hit 25,000 words—the official halfway mark. Crossing fingers, humbled and wiser.

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Shimanchu-American and award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years of experience as a professional writer in nonfiction. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), producer of the Exercise Your Writes YouTube podcast, two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020, find her at

2 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: Tough Week for “Soft Deadlines””
  1. I apologize before I say that it boggles my mind how many folks go for this excruciating marathon since it began. First, you’re dealing in quantity over quality. Second, does it help to be under a deadline? My best writing — even though under 500 -1M wds — comes when I feel I have plenty of time and most importantly am crazy into the idea/plot and setting which I make believable with only a few sentences throughout the story.

    I’ve written longer stories but that little “something” that sets my work apart isn’t there, I’m just writing a story-story –which I can place or sell if lucky, but it wasn’t as much fun to write as a shortie.

    I wish you well, I do. But the joy of the creation doesn’t seem to be there, and you make it sound more of a job than a challenge (the challenge has become a job)! May the gods spare me from ever participating in Nanowrimo! I’d have gone mad! 🙂
    P.S. For goodness sakes, I know you love challenges! Please don’t bother to answer until you reach 49,999 words. By then, you’ll have earned a distraction. 😀

    1. I get where you are coming from and to tell you the truth I figured this was just a lark. Me, write romance? Pahleeeeeze. I’ve done Naonowrimo many times and failed. I’ve ‘won’ a few times but it was just stream of conscious nonsense (and I confess, copy/pasted emails and blog posts to make wordcount).

      I really thought I would have failed by now, which is why I chose the romance genre. I could play with something new for awhile and then drop it. But then I fell in love with the story so now I’m excited to finish it.

      I’m also trying to get back in the habit of writing fiction daily. Not blog posts and emails, but writing that may or may not go somewhere. I don’t think I could do this with horror though. I really have to focus and think about those experiences. What would it feel like to drop off a 13 story building? No idea. I can’t just push 1k words out on that. Research and lots of daydreaming required. But kissing and romance stuff? I don’t have to imagine too much. We’ve been there.

      And while I am calling this a romance because there’s kissing and no one has died yet, I am told by a few beta readers it’s paranormal romance at best, and the dream sequence that ends up with a giant praying mantis severing the heroine’s head from the neck may be a little off genre. But I’m having fun so we shall see what comes of it by words 49,999. I probably won’t kill anyone, but I do know there is a succubus that needs to have bad things happen in another 15k words or so.

      And I never could resist a weird challenge…

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