Answer: There is no secret ingredient. There’s just you.
When I started NaNoWriMo, I wanted to make sure I armed myself with all the things I would need to finish successfully. So I set expectations with my family and myself about writing time. I constructed a minimalist plotline that I thought was simple and could be completed on time. I bought a pre-made cover. I sat my butt in the chair (on my Bintiva) and wrote faithfully and completed 50k words around 9pm on Nov. 30th. I won NaNoWriMo.
But my story wasn’t done. And I wanted to finish the story.
But I was exhausted. November had been a grueling month for me (3 trips and a half-marathon). I had given up precious sleep time to get those 50k words in.
I needed a break. So I promised myself two weeks and took that time to recharge and refill the creative well. Which was good. But it also created a problem.
The longer time I took away from writing, the harder it was for me to get back to it.
Two weeks came and went. Then a third week. I re-read some great masters in my genre. I listened to many podcasts. I set up this blog. I tried to learn about mailing lists. I read about scene mapping and editing. I made a plan. All of which were good things, but none of which were actually finishing my story.
I finally admitted that I was experiencing RESISTANCE.
So I went back to one of the scenes where I had written the beats and started the line by line writing. It was slow going. It took me an hour to just get 300 words down. (During NaNoWriMo, I was doing 1k words an hour.)
But I had written something. I closed my laptop and went to bed, pleased I had gotten through the first hurdle.
The next night, I poured a glass of wine and sat down to re-read the 300 words from the night before and realized something. I had written the beginning of that scene in present tense when the rest of my novel had been in past tense. So I re-wrote the scene. Then I finished the scene…and my glass of wine, and went to bed.
By night three, I was finally in my writing mode and wrote yet another scene to get me closer to the finish line. But then I realized what I thought would be one scene in my notes, actually needed to be two scenes. And I saw that in multiple places. Now the finish line seemed even further away.
I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas evening with my family. Then I opened my laptop this morning and finished another scene. Because that’s the only way I’m going to finish this book—one scene at a time.