It’s that wonderful time of year where writers around the globe tear an extra clump of their hair out every day for a month. Each new day equals a new clump of extracted hair. We figured it could be more aptly names. National Balding Month seems much more fitting…
And guess what? It’s only just around the corner.
It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way
No, really, it doesn’t.
We truly believe that NaNo can be experienced in a fun, stress-free way. That’s why we decided to write this article. We want to show you that you’re more than capable of getting this thing done and coming out on the other side victorious. That’s what we’re here to inspire. This blog of ours is all about the positive vibes.
This article will guide you on your quest.
There’s a lot of positivity in here, but there’s also some harsh truth. Please… don’t take it to heart. We need to be honest with you – it’s the best way to be practically helpful. You’re a writer. You can handle a little harshness, right?
Of course you can!
#5: Be Disciplined
Wait, wait, wait! Before you pull out your torches and pitchforks, let’s go deeper into this.
Discipline is what writes stories. Sure, inspiration and creativity and motivation – they all play a role. But it’s discipline that sits in the driver’s seat. You can be as motivated or inspired as you want, but you’ll never write a great story if you can’t put in the hours.
It’s no different with NaNoWriMo.
Let’s break the word count down. Did you know that to complete NaNo, you only need to cough up 1,667 words a day? Well, don’t cough them up exactly. That would be bad for your throat. But the essence of this metaphor is what counts. That word count is easily achievable.
Yes. We’ll say it again. Easily. So long as you are disciplined enough to stick to it.
See where we’re going with this? The secret here is to force it out. Don’t stress that it sucks – that’s fine. Writer’s block doesn’t exist here. Writer’s block prevents you from writing well, it doesn’t prevent you from writing altogether. That’s impossible.
Care to argue? Take it up with science. We don’t make the rules around here…
#4: Choose Your Poison
And by poison, we mean schedule. It’s just that poison sounded way cooler.
You already know the amount of words you need to write each day in order to make it, but what if you’re a crybab-… um, we mean… what if you’re unable to commit to writing every day? What then?
Well, in that case, just pick a schedule that works for you.
Don’t worry. We aren’t completely heartless. We do realise that people have lives to attend to: day jobs and friends and families and all that boring stuff. We do realise that it isn’t wholly practical for many of you to write every single day.
Here’s our compromise.
Choose a schedule that works for you and be disciplined enough to stick that out instead. The discipline aspect remains the same, you just have to choose which days you can dedicate yourself most. Be real with yourself, though. Don’t wait until day ten to begin. That smells like tragedy. And tragedy is something that doesn’t have a definitive smell, so with phrasing like that, you know it’s bad…
We cannot place enough stress on the importance of sticking it out. Remember, this isn’t like your usual creative process. This isn’t a case of acting on your levels of inspiration or your mood. This is a case of proving to yourself and to the world (but mostly to the world) that you are able to crank out 50,000 words in one month.
Whichever way you choose to slice it, acting based on your feelings is not a good way to go about that.
#3: Spend Thirty Minutes Of Your Allocated Writing Time Reading
That sounds totally backwards, right? But it’s actually a very practical use of your time.
Think about it logically. You know that half hour you inevitably spend wasting time in order to, and we quote, ‘psyche yourself up’? How much better would life be if you could replace that time with some good ole reading?
Reading is one of the best ways to inspire writing.
Have you ever tried this in a general sense? It’s a great way to kick-start the creative process because it initiates your very tired – most likely caffeine-fueled – mind on a deeper, more purposeful level. It also creates inspiration. You’re reading the words of someone who has been where you are right now, but still managed to make it to where you want to go. That’s powerful.
So, to summarise this point: stop wasting time on Twitter and Instagram, and start your creative process with half an hour of reading. Trust us, it’ll be way more productive. Just be sure you’re disciplined enough to stick to your half hour limit.
Yeah, good luck with that…
#2: Go In With A Solid, Believable Plot
This is where a lot of you will likely fail. You have the drive and the desire; you have the discipline. But you lack the fundamental detail of writing a good story: a good story outline.
Just because this is a sprint-style process, that doesn’t make outlining your writing any less imperative. It’s like anything in life. If you choose to go in partially blind, with no real clue of the destination you’re trying to reach, you’re going to have a hard time getting there.
You can’t find the island if you don’t know where it is. And it doesn’t matter how fast you sail. The Atlantic Ocean is still the Atlantic Ocean.
Before you kick your boat away from the shore and set out on this crazy adventure, be sure to pinpoint your destination. If you learn all about the story you’re trying to tell and choose to tell it to yourself first, you’ll have a way better chance of actually telling it. That vision will guide you on those days where you don’t feel like it.
When motivation fails you, a strong plot outline will always have your back – that’s something you can apply to your writing career in general. You’re welcome.
#1: Know Yourself
This is the most important point on this list. If you can’t enjoy this adventure, there’s no point in embarking on it. If you come out of this feeling stressed and anxious and depleted of your desire to create, then you should stay away from NaNo and everything that surrounds it.
It’s not for everyone.
You have to know yourself enough to assess the risk vs the reward. If all you come out with is 50,000 words of slop that you never look at or think about again, was it even worth it? It’s even worse if in the weeks following the event, you’re left paralysed and unable to write. Please know whether or not this is beneficial to you before you set out to take part.
NaNo is a lot of fun, but it can also be highly stressful. If you’re the type of person who beats themselves up and places ungodly levels of pressure on themselves when they fail, we’d advise reconsidering your willingness to participate.
Be Sure To Smile
NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun. That should be the number one reason behind your participation. If you can’t have fun with it, what’s the point? You need to find time on this stressful journey to enjoy the moments as they come. That’s what NaNo is all about.
Think about it positively. We’re all about positivity, remember?
Even if you fail you haven’t failed. Literally. Even if you only manage 10,000 words – that’s 10,000 more than you had at the start of the month. You can use that as a solid foundation and write the rest of the story in the months after the event. It’s literally all about positivity in this industry and community.
If you can learn to see every situation in this writing life through the lens of positivity, your journey is going to be way more fun and purposeful. And that, our wonderful writing friends, is everything.
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