The Muddy Middle

    We are the Nanos you’re looking for. We may be tired and a little broken down, but we still work. We still write.

    Or do we?

    If you’re anything like me, you’re in the middle of the NANO19 marathon sweating like a pig. You’re reaching for an empty water bottle, or bottle of creativity, if you’ll join me on this metaphor. I’m looking forward, as I always do while stuck smack dab in the center of a big project, and wondering how I’ll ever make it to the end. That is what Nanowrimo is all about: finishing. 

    But I want to take a moment and look back on all that we’ve ALREADY accomplished. You might be at the expected word count, ahead, or behind. That’s not important. What’s important is that you chose to take on a massive, soul-crushing project just because you’re a writer. 

    You. Are. A. Writer.

    While everyone else is watching Netflix in their free time, you’re creating the stories that will make us cry, laugh, cheer, and say “I can’t wait to see what happens next”. So take a well-deserved breath before we hit the ground running again. 

    Keep upping that word count! Here is a list of practical, tactical ideas I have used while stuck in the muddy middle of the marathon:

    • Write a different scene. Jump ahead to the end, maybe try a flashback. Even if it’s a scene you’ll end up cutting, you are practicing and getting to know your story better.
    • Expand a secondary character’s role in the story. 
    • Break your story up into chapters if you haven’t already.
    • Reread your favorite part so far. This will spark that motivation you first felt for your story. 
    • Assign a song to the scene you’re working on. This is simply fun and can keep you excited. 
    • Try it all! Maybe you don’t know where you want the story to go next. Or perhaps you know the end but don’t know how to get there. Write all the routes! Think up multiple possibilities to get from point A to point B and write them all. Remember, everything you write is practice, and even if you cut it from this story you can save it in a slush folder for future stories.
    • Keep writing. You may already know exactly what your story needs and where it’s going. In that case, turn off Netflix, screw social media, and write! 

    I have done and won Nanowrimo for 4 years. As a child I dreamed of becoming an author. Because of Nanowrimo, I kept up my hobby and eventually started selling my stories. I have NANO to thank for that! 


    The finish line is not in sight yet. Do not despair, it is just over that next hill. 

    Congenital Heart Defect survivor, Emily Fluke finds joy and peace through the expression of writing. She engages in and has been published in many formats from poetry to short stories to flash fiction and nonfiction. Her first full-length book, “Eve of Anarchy: Chronicles of a Kingdom at War” will be published in 2020 by Clarendon House Publications. You can follow Emily on her website at

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