How to keep motivated during NANOWRIMO and beyond!
National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) is upon us, and millions of people will be sitting down in front of their computers, doing their best to pop out a 50,000 word novel in just thirty days. The experience can be both liberating and daunting.
Although it is not required nor expected to reach the 50,000 word count by the end of November, it is easy to lose steam and inspiration before the 30th comes. To keep that motivation going, here are a few examples you can do to keep calm and carry on.
“If you write 10k a day, you will end up with a book. If you write 1k a day, you will end up with a book. If you write 500 words every Tuesday, you will end up with a book. If you write 100 words before bed, or 50 whenever you can, you will end up with a book.”
Write the scenes you want to see first!
Skip around in your story and write the scenes that give you the most motivation. Some authors build their entire story around that single scene. Once that scene is down on paper, you’ll have a better idea of when/where/what/how your story gets to that part.
Write it first, edit it second!
According to Stephen King’s Rules for Writing, first write for yourself, then for your audience. https://www.dorrancepublishing.com/authors-rules-writing-stephen-king/
Accept your first draft will be bad, and that’s okay! The point of NANOWRIMO isn’t to craft the next Great American Classic, it’s to write.
As part of the ‘write it first, edit it second’ suggestion, deleting is editing. Not just misspelled words or grammatical errors, but don’t delete the obvious plot holes, the awkward dialogue, or the character who is supposed to be dead in this scene. Every bit of writing, good or bad, is a journey to becoming a better writer. Instead put your writing in another folder to look back upon, to study, or to reflect. As author Cecil Atkins put it, “Nothing you write is ever wasted.”
Celebrate your accomplishments!
As American author William Zinsser said, “Writing is hard work.” On top of writing an average 1,600 words per day to meet the NANOWRIMO deadline, authors will still have to contend with work, school, kids, and other daily activities. Don’t beat yourself up for what you didn’t write. Instead pat yourself on the back for what you were able to achieve. Writing is hard work!
Discipline is better than motivation!
Motivation is a fickle thing, it’ll come and go as it pleases. Don’t rely on motivation. Instead, set up a schedule and stick to it. Just like getting up and going to work every day, even on days when you don’t want to, making an effort to write every day is a discipline you will need to master.
Take care of yourself!
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Writing 50,000 words before the end of the month will take a lot of hard work and you may have to push yourself at times, but don’t forget your health comes first! Don’t forget to eat, sleep, and drink plenty of water! Stand up, stretch, unclench your jaw, spend time outside, and take breaks. Your writing will still be there when you come back.
Change it up!
Got writer’s block? Try changing up your font, your writing instruments, or even your writing space. A change of pace can act as a breath of fresh air and give you the extra push to break through your block. (This author occasionally swaps out their black keyboard for a candy-colored one that is very satisfying to type on).
Have your own cheerleading squad!
Some writers prefer to go in it alone, however having someone to back you up, whether they’re cheering you on or making sure you stay on schedule, may be exactly what you need. Batman may be the ultimate lone vigilante, but he still has Alfred, Robin, Commissioner Gordon and many others rooting for him every step of the way.
Your brain is a muscle. Just like a professional runner who needs to get ready for their 500 yard dash, you too need to stretch. Spend at least 10-15 minutes before you begin on your novel with writing exercises to help loosen you up.
Reading is an integral part of writing. Reading different stories by different authors will improve your writing skills, even if you do not apply everything you’ve read into your writing. Just like an artist going to the Smithsonian to see Monet and Van Gogh, you too must read and grow.
Use the Rubber Duck Method!
In programming, whenever the programmer finds themselves stuck, they speak out loud their process step-by-step to a rubber duck. In doing so helps the programmer figure out where they went wrong. If you ever find yourself stuck in your story, speak out loud (to yourself or a rubber duck) to find out where you may have written yourself into a corner.
Don’t forget to have fun!
NANOWRIMO can be intensely stressful, but keep in mind your goal is to write; not to finish, not to create a perfectly written story, not to be in competition with others. This is an experience, so go have fun!
“Writing isn’t about racing to the finish line; it’s about finding joy in each step of the process. If the writer focuses on the journey, the destination will take care of itself.”
– Christopher Meyerhoeffer https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/4110107.Christopher_Meyerhoeffer
For future reading, check out these books!
- “Brace the Page: A Young Writer’s Guide to Telling a Good Story” by Rebecca Stern.
- “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King
- “Crafting Novels and Short Stories” by James Scott Bell