Have you wanted to participate in a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) event, but haven’t felt confident that you had what it takes to write the entire month? Does the fear of running out of motivation or inspiration make you feel like giving up before you’ve begun?
You’re not alone.
You are not alone. Writing every day for a month can be a big commitment, even when there isn’t the added pressure of completing a specific word every day. At some point, every NaNoWriMo participant has had to face the fear that they might not finish the month. Yes, that’s always a possibility, even for the veteran participants. However, putting the cart before the horse can only guarantee one outcome—that you don’t get anywhere.
Spending too much time worrying about whether or not you have what it takes to finish is a sure fire way of remaining exactly where you are, not having written that short story, novel, or screenplay that has been haunting your imagination.
The good new is… that doesn’t have to be you. Last November, I stood on that very same precipice and decided to take the plunge with the millions of other newbies and veteran NaNoWriMo writers, affectionately referred to as Wrimos. Yes, I was nervous and full of self-doubt. But, I didn’t let that stop me—and neither should you.
The truth is…A writer’s success isn’t measured by “wins” or “losses.” It is measured by progress and perseverance. (Tweet this quote!)
If you are ready to jump on the writing bandwagon for the next NaNoWriMo event, or even if you’re not, here are 10 tips to keep you inspired and motivated on your way to achieving writing success.
10 Ways to Stay Inspired During (Camp) NaNoWriMo
- View all progress as a “win.” Whether you’re writing for NaNo or for yourself, any and all progress is a win. If you can only write 50 words a day, every day, that’s a win. How? It’s 50 more words a day than if you weren’t writing at all. Sure, it’ll take you 20 years to finish a project at that rate, but forward momentum should always be celebrated as positive momentum. Most likely, the process of writing daily will result in you writing more as you get used to the habit.
- Adjust your expectations.Who died and said you had to write a certain word-count? You’re the boss of you! Set a completely realistic daily word-count for yourself, even if you have to go ridiculously low. On good days, you’ll exceed the mark willingly. On bad days, you can get by completing only your minimum and still have made some progress for the day. Win-Win. Need a bit more accountability? WriteChain.com is a great solution.
- Keep a work-in-progress (WIP) journal. What’s a WIP journal? It’s the journal you use to keep track of any thoughts, details, or conundrums regarding the WIP writing project(s) are writing. If you are blocked or creatively constipated, it’s the daily fiber that can help you get back to writing regularly. This is my personal go-to whenever I have issues with character development or plotting. I just write down my thoughts/issues with my current work. I almost always find a workable solution within 15 minutes of writing.
- Get visual. If you find yourself in a writing rut, it might be helpful to engage in what a fellow fantasy writer, Dianna Gunn refers to as productive procrastination or switch brain hemispheres function. Give yourself permission to read a visually stimulating magazine or such as Instagram. If you like to create “mood boards,” you could always make one from whatever bric-a-brac you have around or go online to Pinterest to make a digital version. Don’t count out doodling, journaling, and collage. Just be sure to set a timer so that you don’t get carried away and forget to write.
- Summon your creative mojo.
Who said rituals were just for mystics? Anyone can train their creativity to come when called with the help of writing rituals, spells and/or talismans. The sillier the ritual, the more effective it will be. Invite your creativity to come out and play on a regular basis…and you’ll find yourself blocked less and less the more you use your writing ritual. You probably already have a couple. Why not jazz them up and make them official.
- Unblock output with input and read a book.
If you can’t write one more word, why not put down the pencil and pick-up a book…to read. This might appear counter-productive, but there’s a lot of inspiration hiding between the covers of your favorite novels. However, you don’t want to get carried away. You try a book you’ve already read, to prevent turning your light snack into a literary feast. This is another tip where setting a timer might be helpful.
- Ask yourself, “What Would My Character Do?”
If you find that character development is an issue for your work, you might ask yourself what would a particular character do in a given situation. This is a great exercise for fleshing out the backstory for any given character in your novel. Arrange to engage another writing friends on a platform such as Twitter where you can interact with their characters in the persona of your character. Or if you are really into it, you could dress-up as your character and interact in-person. Just be sure to have a notebook handy for any insights this technique might provide.
- Warm up with prompts and/or hashtag writing games.
Having just mentioned Twitter… this is a good segue to talk about the many writing games and prompts writing opportunities that happen every day in Twitterverse. If you don’t already participate, these games are a great way to stay on your toes creatively. Having to write lines on the spot on a random or preconceived theme will exercise your creative muscles like a literary version of plyometrics.
- Talk your way through the block.
Not into role-playing? You could just make a recording of your thoughts out loud and capture it all with a mic app available on your cell phone.
- Just write anything (story related).
If all else fails, just start writing anything story related. You could start with a shopping list that a character might need. Describe the favorite room in which a character lives. Their favorite movies or anything else that you might imagine.
Tell me about your writer’s journey!
I’d love to hear how things are going with your writing. In the comments below, tell me:
- Do you have a book, short story or screenplay you’d like to write? Have you started? If not, what’s holding you back?
- What’s one step you can take *right now* to make room for daily writing?
- What ideas do you use to help you write through lulls in inspiration?
Bonus Points: Return here and reply to your comment with “HAPPY CAMPER” if you participated and/or made progress in an upcoming (Camp) NaNoWriMo event.