Could you write 50,000 words in a month? That’s what writers all around the world set out to do throughout November as part of National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo.
If there’s a book you want to write, NaNoWriMo is your chance to do it. Whether you want to get started on a new story or take on a fresh draft, it’s a daunting, exhilarating and rewarding experience.
The trick to succeeding with NaNoWriMo is to get started as soon as you can and pace out your writing so you’re able to sustain it. After all, even if you devote a month to writing, you still have to live.
Here are seven ways to get in the mood to write and keep going…
Create an inspiring writing space
Your environment can have a huge impact on your writing. It’s where you’re going to make everything happen. So, make sure yours is ready for NaNoWriMo. Start by taking away anything that will distract you or give you a bad feeling. Next, think about what will inspire you and keep you motivated then fill your writing space with those things. Suggestions include motivational quotes, books by authors who have inspired you, a writing planner and lots and lots of coffee!
Signal it’s time to start
Some people find it’s helpful to get into a writing routine as a certain time of day can then act as a signal that it’s time to write. However, routine isn’t possible or enjoyable for everyone. In this situation, a trigger can work better. It could be something as simple as brewing yourself a percolator of tea or coffee, pouring wine or filling a bowl with your favourite snacks. Maybe it’s a short walk, energising meditation or stretch. Whatever it is, try to do your trigger activity regularly before you write so your brain comes to see it as a sign it’s time to write. Make sure your trigger is something easy so you won’t put it off and it’s quick enough not to become a distraction.
Stimulate your writing
The best way to get in the mood to write is to sit down and do it. It might feel uncomfortable for a few minutes but, once you get going, it’s surprising how often ideas begin to flood in. Inspiration is more likely to arrive when you’re writing than when you’re waiting for it. If you struggle to get going, try starting with something that doesn’t carry the pressure of your novel, for example a piece of flash fiction, a journal entry or poem. The act of typing on your keyboard or scribbling will stimulate your mind. Keep writing and you’ll soon get in the zone.
If you’re a planner, you may have prepared an outline beforehand. This can help to propel you forward. You’ll know where you’re going and this will give you a sense of direction. But do allow yourself to be spontaneous. If you find your characters questioning your direction, take the time to listen to them and follow their lead. At the end of the day, it’s their story. If you’re a ‘panster’ (someone who writes without a plan), NaNoWriMo is a brilliant opportunity for you to embrace your natural spontaneity as you set out on your adventure with your characters.
Use questions to keep moving
Who, what, when, where, why and how are part of a free toolkit for writers. Every time you come to a halt, ask yourself questions like, ‘How would my characters feel about that?’, ‘Where would they go now?’ and ‘What would happen as a consequence?’ Write down all the possible answers and choose the ones that feel right. Don’t let uncertainty stall you. What’s the worst that could happen? NaNoWriMo is about discovering your story and, if you go down a dead end, just like any other journey, you can re-route having learned a valuable lesson.
Resist the urge to edit as you go
It’s hard for your writing to flow when you’re wearing your editing ‘hat’. This is because your inner critic will constantly interrupt you as you try to write. Don’t fret if you feel your first draft is rubbish or you wouldn’t read it. First drafts always need substantial work. Better just to let the words flow out and keep moving forward, reminding yourself you will come back to polish your novel when this draft is done.
Keep rewarding your writing
Whether its chocolate, Champagne, a celebration or simply a 15-minute break now and again, keep rewarding yourself along the way. It’ll motivate you to keep writing.
What helps you get going with your writing and keep it up? We’d love to hear your ideas, tips and suggestions too. Share them in the comments below.