And since I haven't figured out how to add two or three extra hours in a twenty-four-hour day, NaNoWriMo is not happening for me this year, but that's okay. My marketing and PR efforts are taking up way more time than I anticipated, and to be honest, my gut told me to shelve the idea of NaNoWriMo this year and keep going with my original goal of getting my trilogy written, ASAP.
Although I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo, the excitement is still around the writing community and I know lots of teens taking on the writing challenge. So I'm doing a virtual cheer for all you brave writers in the trenches, your fingers wildly tapping away. I feel your pain. I know how your eyeballs hurt from too much screen time, and your shoulders and back ache. And since I can't give you all a virtual back rub, I figured I'd share a few ways I stay inspired and on track with my writing.
Tip #1: Exercise. Every day.
Do whatever works for you. A very smart person told me that if a lumberjack never sharpens her saw, she's going to work harder and be less productive, i.e., chop down less trees (not my favorite analogy because I get choked up when any tree is being cut down, but hey, you get the point). Daily exercise is a must and when that cursor is sitting on an empty page and you've done nothing but write and delete a hundred times, get up, take a walk or a run or whatever you like to do, and come back to your story.
Tip #2: Mindless, repetitive tasks.
Mindless, repetitive tasks help cultivate creativity. Get up from your story and do something mindless for at least twenty minutes after about an hour of writing time. Laundry, dishes, cleaning the shower stall with a toothbrush, shredding documents - you get the idea.
Tip #2: Read your previous work.
I always start every writing session reading the previous writing session's work (and tweaking and revising as I read). I'm not a sports person, but I've taken enough P.E. classes in my day to know that you must warm up before any kind of exercise or game. Same with writing.
Tip #3: Know where you're going.
When I get stuck, it is because I'm lost. Look at the big picture for your story. Maybe you need to rewrite what you just wrote yesterday because you wrote yourself into a corner. I know it sounds daunting, but sometimes rewriting the previous section, gets you out of that corner, frees you up, and you will double your word count for the day. In other words, you're going to go backwards to move forwards.
Tip #5: Find a routine.
It's cliche' but you have to find a writing routine that works for you. I like to use the analogy of getting ready for bed. You have a routine for that, and the "getting ready for bed" routine helps your mind wind down. Writing is the same. Get some kind of routine going that gives your mind a signal it's time to write.
Tip #5: Life outside the novel does not exist.
If you're going to focus on getting to your word count for the day or week or whatever, you have to block out life. There just isn't any other way to put it. When you sit down to write, nothing else happens. Period.
Tip #6: No freaking out.
Sometimes the thought of writing so many words is worse than actually doing it. You might have had a bad day, or life gets in the way and you're way behind on your word count. When you sit down to write, set your goal but don't panic. It might seem a like a huge mountain but don't freak out. Just write. Decide you will stay at your computer until you reach that word count, no matter what and do not check your word count until you are ready to cry (seriously). When you're exhausted, check where you're at. If you made it to your goal, great. Reward yourself big. If you're close (within a few hundred words) give yourself a break and call it a day, but make a goal to make up those words during your next writing session. The biggest thing is this: you need to decide you will reach your goal no matter what. Tape that word count onto your computer and keep at it. Within a few days, you'll catch up and reach your goal, as long as you don't panic. I promise.