Real Life Tips for NaNoWriMo
- Writer’s write.
- Just write.
- Put your butt in the chair and write.
- Write one word at a time.
- Keep writing…
Each year I participate in NaNoWriMo (and NaNo’s Camps) to keep myself motivated to write everyday. Developing the habit of writing everyday is one of those crucial aspects of a writing career that is essential to success. Recently I heard someone say “If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer.” I think it’s important, as a creative person, to remember that there might be days when you don’t feel like writing, or being creative in general. When depression, anxiety, or life’s curve balls happen and the last thing you want or feel like doing is writing (or being creative). But if you want to thrive and survive as a creative person you have to find a way to get past those, to not only survive them but to thrive.
I love reading and writing. I also love drawing, painting with watercolors, coloring, writing in my journal… the combination of words and art help soothe my soul, they provide me with a healthy way to reduce my anxiety, stress, and help to keep the depression at bay. I’ve also noticed that journaling about my writing process, as well as my day, help keep me focused (and believe me, that’s hard to do since I have ADHD). When a shiny new idea pops up and tempts me to quit what I’m currently working on to go work on that shiny new idea, I just jot down the shiny new idea into my notebook, then go back to my current project.
When I’m afraid that I don’t know what to write next, or the fear of the blank page sends my anxiety into overdrive, instead of freezing and letting that fear overtake me I take a walk, read a chapter in the current book I’m reading (right now I’m re-reading the Stand by Stephen King), take a bath, get a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, eat a snack like cashews or a banana–during that time I’ve cleared my mind. The ability to write isn’t as super power. It takes commitment, diligence, resilience, and determination.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given in regard to writing is two parts:
- “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” ~Stephen King
- “Just write, and keep writing until it’s finished.” Miss Franklin, my 9th grade English teacher.
King also said, “Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.” I firmly believe that. If you don’t understand the basics of storytelling, of a book, how can you write one, especially a good one.
And when it comes to the actual writing, if you don’t write… you won’t have a book, and you can’t edit a blank page, can’t publish the book you don’t write… And the first draft isn’t going to be perfect, or as Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” I remind myself of that daily. I also remind myself that the worst thing I’ve written that day is better than what I didn’t write. Letting go of the perfectionism is one of the best ways to survive and thrive during NaNoWriMo. Turn off your inner editor when you’re writing the first draft. It’s called the Fugly First Draft for a reason.
Here is additional real life tips for NaNoWriMo: