Welcome to November. You know what that means! That’s right. It’s time to cancel your social outings, forget about going on dates or being a normal human being, because it’s time to write 1,667 words in a day. It’s enough to make even the pro writers squirm.
So how do you stay calm and write on? Check out these tips!
Remind yourself of why you started in the first place.
The reason this quote stuck with me for so long, is because it’s true. When we don’t get the results we want as soon as we want or at all, it’s easy to feel like it’s not working. And when it feels like it’s not working, it sometimes feel like it’s pointless. Sometimes, it is. But other times, it’s just a matter of reaching the end of the dark road and finding the light at the end. Finding result.
For NANOWRIMO, that result can either be writing more than you usually do, or reaching the two glorified words: “The End”.
TIP: Before you even begin writing “Once Upon a Time…” tear out a blank page of notebook paper or copy paper. It can even be a sticky-note if you want. Point is, make it blank! Write down in Pen “Why I want to do NANOWRIMO in 2015.” Then paste it to the wall beside your computer. When you get stuck, or feel like being a normal person instead of a crazy writer for a month, look at that paper. And remind yourself. Remind yourself of why you’re doing it. It might not just be about finishing the story. Maybe it’s because you want to just finish something in your life. Maybe you feel out of control, and you feel like your writing schedule is the one thing you have control over. Maybe it’s that feeling you get when you throw your fist in the air like in the Breakfast Club and say “I did it!” Whatever the reason, make sure it’s honest! And if the reason is important enough, you just might find the mojo to carry out this insane quest.
Drink plenty of water. Studies show water helps the brain focus.
Think of your brain as precious as your SmartPhone. And you know how you get freaked out when your phone is on low battery, and you gotta find an outlet? Well, your brain is like that with water. If it starts to feel dehydrated (I.E. low battery!) and it’ll want to plug itself in, by drinking water! Find more on it on sites like these: waterbenefitshealth.com or take your pick from this Google search. So yeah you’ll have to pee, and that can be a little annoying. But your brain will thank you for it later! And maybe the more focused you are, the “muse” will find you faster!
I personally recommend coffee to dope your brain with creativity!
Back in 2012 I quoted this article which I thought was cool because it talked about dopamine – which is sort of the trigger of creativity. Sort of. It goes deeper than that. But I only skinned the surface of neurology, so I’m not going to embarrass myself by trying to explain it. Because damnit Jim, I’m a writer not a doctor!
However, this article here by creativesomething.net which advises us to be careful about coffee, because it doesn’t really give us energy; however, it tricks the brain into believing we don’t need sleep. So coffee is good for the creative soul, but eventually – yes even during NANOWRIMO – we humans do need sleep. And sometimes especially during NANOWRIMO sleep is a good thing. Because as the Bard himself would say: “To Sleep Perchance to Dream”. Only then Hamlet was talking about death …anyway, back to coffee. Here’s a cool quote about why coffee helps us creative types.
Dopamine is the chemical that acts as a primary neurotransmitter in the brain, building and maintaining the bridge between nerve cells. Caffeine allows the dopamine levels in your brain to more or less maintain, keeping the signals between neurons firing on all cylinders long after their energy levels would regularly allow.
So do you drink coffee while you write? Tea? Soda? Share in the comments below what gets your muse flowing!
Keep your environment PERFECT.
That means lots of light, temperature to your liking, and either a clean or messy desk depending on how you like things.
This might seem like an obvious tip. But too often we jump on the keyboard without thinking about if we’re comfortable. So adjust the temperature, make sure you’re well fed, grab your favorite source of snack or caffeine, drink your water, pee first, and then all that’s left to think about is the story itself! Yeah, not always that easy, but hey – you never know!
Reward yourself when you reach your daily writing goal. However, don’t beat yourself up too much if you didn’t.
It’s easy to celebrate the wins! But don’t beat yourself up too much. It might hold you back if you beat yourself up too much, because you might fear the attempt next time. And remember, NANO is supposed to be FUN! Crazy idea, but it’s true.
Don’t quit just because you missed a few days in a row.
Pick up where you left off. Remember: NANOWRIMO just isn’t about hitting 50k. It’s about writing more than you normally do. One year, I made this mistake. I thought “why should I even write when it’s November 20th and I still have 15k words to go?” Yeah, it’s not like that. It should be “Oh I have 15k more words to go but look I have 35k more words than I did on November 1st!” So yeah, tweak the way you think and you won’t feel like a loser. 🙂
Forget the word-count for a moment and just write.
^Um, this. This is everything. No pressure, just write and have fun!
TIP: Inspiration that comes naturally without seemingly much thought is sometimes refereed to as”divine” or a gift from “the muse”. But just because if you didn’t fall on your face because your mind got blown away by an amazing idea for your story. Just WRITE. The writing process itself is a form of inspiration. It’s like running. You don’t always feel like it, but you know you gotta. Or so they say. Because damnit Jim, I’m a writer not a runner!
Outline, even a vague one can help you continue if you get stuck.
Remember these from school? Well maybe they were on to something! Try the Save the Cat method or find one that suits you. There are LOADS of brainmapping and outlineing tools out there on the web, many of them for free! Although Save the Cat was created for screenwriting, even novelists like Jessica Brody have been known to convert the tool into story structure. Including yours truly! Hey and speaking of Jessica Brody, she has a very nifty tip for writers page on her website! Go check it out 🙂
And if you need further motivation to finish NANOWRIMO, maybe be inspired by these National Best-Sellers that started out as NANOWRIMO projects! Who knows, yours could be next!
So what tips do you have for those who are nervous about doing NANOWRIMO? Leave a comment down below! Your tip just might inspire a future novelist!