Monday, November 16, 2015

NaNo or Not, How to Keep Up Your Writing Motivation

November is national-novel-writing-month (NaNoWriMo). I've never actually taken the steps to register and track the goal toward 50,000 words in one month. It takes being at the right point or setting aside one's current project, because this is all new writing. It doesn't matter how good the content is; it's a first draft.

Many writers prepare ahead with detailed outlines and scene notes, meals in the freezer, or clearing their calendar. Some go on writing retreats or send the kids to grandma's to get a significant volume done the first or second weekend. Writing friends challenge one another to a sprint or compete to claim bragging rights on social media. Whatever floats their boat to get the job done is fair game.

As for me, I prefer a quiet space in which to write and not feel stressed by deadlines. I'm not sure I would do well in a retreat setting. Once hubby comes home from work, I shift to getting other things done or have to close the office door. The voices in my head don't speak loudly enough when they have to compete with other noises. Even music is too distracting because I tend to sing along in my mind, if not with my voice. Music holds a strong pull from my focus.

So how do we motivate ourselves if we aren't participating in nano? 1. We still need a specific goal. It might be to write a page or a blog post. It might be to revise one chapter. It must be doable and have a timeline attached. 2. We need someone to hold us accountable, someone to report to. This can be a spouse, friend, critique group, or announcement on social media. A few people find success in reporting to themselves through logging numbers or checking off boxes. 3. We need a reward system. Whatever gives us that boost: a special treat, reading time, etc. Sometimes personal satisfaction is enough, sometimes you have to smell the chocolate.

Whether you are pushing for 50 words or 50,000, learn what kind of environment works best for you, the hours of the days that you are most productive, and what kind of motivation/support you need. Most writers write because they love it, and writers support one another in their passion. Have a great week writing and remember, I'm rooting for you!

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