NaNoWriMo 101: How to Stay Motivated
Happy NaNoWriMo, writers! We’ve just passed the midway point… You might be starting to see the tiniest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel… You can do this!
You’re tired. It’s getting cold outside. The novelty’s probably worn off. And, well, that comfy couch, cozy blanket, and napping puppy is looking mighty good compared to a hard, wooden coffee shop chair. And you’re more distractible than ever. AmIright?
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So how does one stay motivated under a stiff deadline or, in this case, a month-long writing marathon?
Here’s five tips to help you push through to ‘the end’:
Take a break.
Yes, I know, it might feel counterintuitive, but I cannot stress just how important this is! Maaaybe don’t nap with the puppy (I know from experience that’s a trap just waiting to happen) but definitely take her out on a walk! Or give yourself twenty minutes to wander outside. Take a stroll down the street, pop into your local bookstore, anything that might refresh your creative stores and give your hands a break from typing.
Reinvigorate your inspiration.
Long before you were dealing with saggy middle sections, possible plot holes, and uncooperative characters you had an amazing idea for an amazing story! Allow yourself to travel back to that place by making a couple of new novel aesthetics, creating an updated playlist, or even sketching or painting a scene that’s a favorite, one you can’t wait to write, or even one that might be causing you some trouble. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to recall how much you DO love this story you’re toiling over.
“BLOCK OUT THE NOISE AND MAKE THE THING”
No, I didn’t come up with this phrase. It’s from a lovely, inspiring blog post by author Lance Ruben. You can read the full post here, but basically it’s about sitting down, coping through and pushing past your anxiety, your self-critic, and ALL of the potential failures and successes the thing you’re creating may or may not bring on. It’s about pulling back the curtain, stripping the project down to the varnish and just… creating. Don’t forget to enjoy the process.
Be kind to yourself.
Not finishing does not = failure. Writing a novel in one month is a humongous undertaking. Keeping your goals realistic and your mental health positive is just as important as completing the project. If you need to go back and reassess your NaNo goals, that’s perfectly okay! In my opinion, NaNoWriMo is all about getting a project started (because starting a new project is often the hardest part for writers), discovering a supportive community, and finding inspiration through creating. Some writers use NaNo to stay motivated during edits or to map story outlines. It’s not all or nothing and it certainly isn’t a "one size fits all" scenario. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have goals and to hit those goals, but it’s also healthy not to beat yourself up if you don’t. Try not to get caught up with unrealistic expectations and word counts. Quality over quantity can be a good thing, friends.
Because my answer to most of life’s quandaries is "coffee." But what do you mean, coffee? That’s not a tip, Jessika?! Basically, indulge in something that makes you happy. For me, that’s often coffee. Read a book, have a dessert, go see a movie, okay, go ahead and take a nap with the puppy (but set an alarm!). You’ve worked hard and you deserve a pat on the back, a treat, a small indulgence, dammit!
But save the big reward for December 1st.