Today’s post is for the NaNoWriMo people amongst us and part of #NaNoInspo blog tour.
It’s Day 7.
By now you’re probably over the initial blush of excitement which spurs on your Nano project.
If you’re lucky, the words are still flowing and you’re riding high.
But the fairy dust has probably fallen from your eyes and you’re staring into a white abyss with a stupid blinking cursor wondering what the fuck you signed up for.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo a bunch of times and for the first seven times, I flailed at about 20,000 word mark.
I learned the secret over time.
It’s not sexy.
It’s not cool.
It’s boring and hard and takes lots of time and it’s unrelenting.
But it’s the secret to writing success and probably the tip you don’t want to hear.
It’s the one thing that all successful writers have in common. No matter which genre.
They’ve all been persistent to finish the bloody book!
But how do you get this magical persistence?
Here are a few tips on how to keep moving.
First, take a look at yourself. How do you get motivated? Are you an annoyingly self-motivated person? Or are you someone who jumps through a window to escape the merest suggestion of a rule? Are you more likely to stick to it if you’ve got a team with you along for the ride?
One way to assess your own motivational profile is to check out Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. This can help you work out ways to trick yourself into persistence. Rubin explored ‘how people respond to expectations’ e.g. signing up to write 50,000 words in a month.
Rubin identified four types of people:
Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
Try her quiz and work out which one you are.
If you’re an upholder, set yourself a target with rewards (a beer, a biscuit or an hour of gaming)
If you’re a questioner, remind yourself why you want to write this book. Spend a few minutes writing down why. Pin it up in your writing space and every time you start to question why you are bothering, read your own raison d’etre. My own ‘why I write’ mission statement is ‘I write stories to entertain myself. And making shit up is the best damned fun ever.’
If you’re an obliger and need some external push, join your local NaNoWriMo meet-up group, write-ins or build an online support group.
If you’re a rebel, picture a person in your mind to prove wrong. That arsehole English teacher from Grade 8 who said you couldn’t write. Think of each writing session as squishing it in her face like a cream pie. And soon enough you’ll have a whole novel to whack her with.
Second, look at your story. Have you run out of steam? Have you written yourself into a corner? Are you weeping over of a steaming pile of turds?
We’ve all been there.
Perhaps try something different:
- Take a few deep breaths and step back from the blank page for a moment. Go for a walk. Pump up the music. Sing. Dance. Laugh.
- Plot out the next few scenes in advance.
- Jump ahead to the end and write that – no one says you have to write in sequence.
- Pick up a writing prompt and throw that in.
- Try to weave in a random word. Open a book and pick a word. I opened my handy Roget’s Thesaurus and randomly picked ‘knavish’. Hmm.
- Write a love scene, a comedy scene, a long descriptive scene about fog (it worked for Dickens) or my favourite – describe a meal.
- Explore and play, get to know your characters better, write their back stories or their ‘misguided truth’.
Then sit down and start typing.
Don’t worry if it’s shit.
It’s always shit to begin with, but with persistence, it’ll be less shit.
You might even like it.