Putting the ‘NoWri’ in ‘NaNoWriMo’

Lately I’ve had a very specific way that I start my day. A nice breakfast, some hot tea or coffee, and then I sit down at my desk and write. How I manage to do this, and workout, all before work is beyond me. I’m not questioning the motivation, I’m just rolling with it.

Now that we’re 10 days, and closing, to the end of November, I’ve felt a deep sense of – dread? no, not dread – something that I may not make the 50,000 words I need in time. If you’re not clued in yet, I mean for NaNoWriMo.

Life can get crazy, and even if you prioritize the things you really want, it can be hard to make that time when you’re handed curve-balls. Between this depressing election that I haven’t spoken about, work and my social life, it’s been a balancing act. I decided to go completely dark on social media for the whole of November. It’s been kinda nice to not worry about Tweeting or liking things – what is our technological life, really?

In doing so, it’s freed up a lot of time that I would usually have made space for to dawdle on my phone. However, I have yet to break the habits of checking my phone in the morning. I just don’t have the apps I was checking, so it’s usually just scrolling on Pinterest – because that’s hardly a social engagement – or watching a new YouTube video. (I’ve been obsessed with YouTube and my podcasts even more lately.)

In an attempt to get more positive, writing vibes in my apartment, I reorganized and moved my desk on my half of the office. This gives me a sense of a new environment when it’s really the same. But it also provides more light from the window behind me, so that’s a nice welcome.

Unfortunately, I have found that I still struggle with a feeling of inadequacy when it comes to my actual brainstorming. I’ve been setup since elementary school to understand how a formatted outline works, how to do the web/cloud brainstorming method, and even the act of stream-of-consciousness writing. And yet, I feel like I still don’t know much about my story or characters. I haven’t been caught unsure of what to write yet, but I still feel like I am not as prepared as some people must be. Perhaps it’s because this is my first real forte into fiction writing since middle school, but I simply don’t know how to properly handle the preliminary planning that goes into a novel. I’ve managed to get this far without a true understanding of where I might end up. Does anyone else struggle with this?

Today I sat down again and wrote. What keeps me going to write? I’ve found a few tricks…

  1. Find a place where the noise level is what works for you
    • Don’t force yourself to work in a place that’s too quiet or too loud. The time to write is in your hands. 
  2. Find an environment that gives you the right vibes~
    • This is similar to the above trick, but involves more than just noise level. 
    • This can be tricky if you’re not used to this. For me, I’ll either completely change where I am for a fresh take on my surroundings and pace, or I’ll change what’s around me. 
      • It’s also not a bad idea to use that time to take a walk through town if you live in a pedestrian-friendly/safe area. Just some fresh air can do wonders. 
    • Either this means going to the library, cafe or park, or putting some candles and music out at my desk or by my couch to make it feel new. 
  3. Do some sprints! 
    • If you’re terrified of running, don’t worry, I’m not talking about physical sprinting. I just mean do NaNo sprints/writing sprints.What works for me is setting a timer for 30 minutes, writing as much as I can, then giving myself a 5 minute break. I repeat the process until I have worn my brain out of writing. 
    • This can really help me if the basic ‘just write’ mentality feels stale, or I need a stretch goal. 
  4. Do write-ins! 
    • You may know what this is, or know it by a different name, but it’s just a writing group. Get a writing buddy, or writing buddies, and cozy up somewhere and write. This can mean all meeting for a lunch date at your favorite cafe, sit-in restaurant or at someone’s house and spending time quietly writing together. Just having someone there can really make you feel like it’s important that you prioritize the writing, because that’s what they’re doing, too. 
    • The benefit to this is that you also have a group of people to work out any snags in your plots and character developments. Feeling stale? Ask that everyone call a time-out and talk about what you’re doing. 
      • If you do sprints with them, it gives you the chance to discuss what you’ve done so far or just how you feel in between each sprint, too. 
    • Don’t have anyone to write with? Meet people online! Chat up some folks on Twitter, go perusing the NaNoWriMo forums, or join in on the NaNoWriMo Virtual Sit-Ins that they do through YouTube streaming. Here’s their latest one. (If you need someone to do virtual sit-ins with you, I’m all in. Seriously. Just email me.) 
Because I am behind, I calculated that I have to hit about 3700 words every day of this month to hit the 50,000 word limit to “win” NaNoWriMo this year. It’s the first year I’ve had not only a fiction project but the first year I’ve been so determined to actually get there. 
If you’re writing, I wish you the best of luck! Comment below or email me if you want moral support. 😉 

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