This week begins the month of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to commit the month of November to write a novel. Not a full-length novel, mind you. If you reach 50k words you’ve met the NaNo word count goal, and most novels usually run from 60k to 100k words. The goal is more to get that novel started (or in my case, finished) by using the community of other NaNoWriMo writers to encourage and push you.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how, when I first started writing, I only wrote when creativity sparked, but now I’ve been able to train myself to write whenever I have the time (which is almost never with kids). SO, to share the wealth of information I’ve learned in my measly 7 years of writing, here are 5 things you can do to help you get that book written…when all you want to do is watch tv.
1. Create a routine. Doesn’t have to be huge. (But it could.) Before kids, my routine included comfy clothes, candles, pandora music, tea or coffee, blanket, and a snack. Now that I have kids, I don’t have the luxury of providing the perfect writing atmosphere, so I settle with comfy clothes and the occasional hot drink. The goal is to have something you do/have every time you write to help get your brain into “writer mode”.
2. Skip to your next exciting scene. This is more for if you’re bored with what you’re currently writing, or hitting what some would call “writer’s block”. You might be writing a filler scene that connects this exciting scene with that one. STOP! Filler scenes are BORING and will most likely bore your readers, too. “But they have to be there to transition to the next scene!” Okay. You’re probably right. In that case, fill it in LATER. After the book is written. When all the exciting scenes are jotted down and you’re going through revising. Trust me, you’ll have some interesting snippets for foreshadowing to add to these filler scenes that will make them more interesting. Put off the boring scene and write whatever scene you’re inspired to write NOW.
3. Just. Write. Sometimes skipping to the next exciting scene doesn’t quite do it. That’s okay. (And normal!) Just keep trudging. Write what’s happening, even if it sounds horrible or terribly boring. Type away, my friend, and know that when you come back to it later, you’ll have all kinds of ideas to make it more interesting. (That’s what the revision stage is for.) I promise, if you push through your writer’s block, the creatitviy will spark once again, and then your fingers will be flying across the keyboard so fast, the computer won’t know what hit it.
4. Find your writing time. Depending on your job or if you have kids, it could be hard to find one chunk of time to write. When I worked nightshift, I was a nighttime writer on my nights off. Then, when I quite my job, I became a morning writer. I would get a good 5k words written before lunch and take the rest of the afternoon to relax. Now that I have 2 kids, I can’t exactly choose what time works for me. I have to write when both kids are asleep, which only happens to be after 8 pm. So from 8 to 10:30ish, I commit to writing. No tv. No reading. No excuses. (Unless the kids need me. #Priorities.) I get my hot drink and put my butt in the chair. And write.
5. Participate in writing sprints. Find other Nanoers and do writing sprints! A writing sprint is where you and another writer (or 3 or 4 or more) decide to write at a certain time, for a certain amount of time (ex: “Let’s begin at :00 and go for 20 min.”), and at the end of the sprint you share your word count. It’s not a race by any means, but more like accountability. Plus, it’s so much easier to write in small increments. If you commit 20 min, and you’re doing it WITH other writers, you’ll be less likely to get distracted in those 20 min. Then you can take a 10 min. break, and set aside another 20 min. (You can find other nanoers via writing group on Facebook.)
BONUS: Read. I know, I know. You’re attempting to WRITE a book, so READING one will only suck up that time you need to write. Just remember that your creativity needs to be fed. You can’t keep putting out all this energy and not take time to refill your brain. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day, set some time aside to read and recharge. Your brain will thank you for it.
What about you? Any ideas I missed that might help a fellow writer out?