I’ll be completely honest with you, I have only written 5,000 words of my novel so far. Between studying for endless exams and keeping up with work, I’ve found very little time to actually get some writing done. When I do get some spare time, I feel completely unmotivated and only really get about 100-200 words on a page before I completely pass out.
Nevertheless, I consider the progress that I have made a huge success! Why? Because despite how dead I feel at the end of the day, and despite the complete lack of inspiration, I still put something down on the blank page. It’s something that I can come back to in the future and expand on. You can’t do that with a blank document!
In my personal opinion, that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about. It’s about getting some sort of foundation for a novel finished so you can spend the next few months (or years — everyone works at there own pace) workshopping it into a fully formed novel that is ready to be published. Already I can see the novel that I have started as a project that I want to see through to the end, and even though I am currently procrastinating by writing this instead of another part of my first draft, I am still brainstorming various scenes and plot points that I want to incorporate into my novel.
Now with that little motivational pep talk out of the way, I would like to present to you the tips that have helped me stay slightly motivated so far!
Skipping Through Time
Already during the first week, I was stuck on where my story was going. I knew where I wanted the plot to end up, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. So, instead of staring at Scrivener, waiting for it to reveal exactly what I should type next, I just started writing a random scene that I thought would be good to have.
Will I use this scene in future drafts? Maybe. It doesn’t matter whether it will end up in the finished novel, all that matters right now is to get the ideas flowing. Once I started that random scene, I started to think of different things that will help move the story along and get it to the ending that I had in mind. I could see more of the puzzle pieces begin to fit into place.
It’s Okay to “Lose”
When I got through the first week and realized that I was very behind, I was devasted. I had this amazing outline in mind, and so many plans to write during a set amount of time each day. So when that had already fallen through, I felt disappointed in myself for not trying harder.
That’s when I mentally scolded myself for putting myself down long before the month was even over, and instead began to look at the positive sides.
- The only way you “lose” NaNoWriMo, is if you write nothing at all. Sure, it’s much more exciting to reach the last day of November with a whole 50,000 words written in some Word Document, but sometimes it just isn’t worth the stress.
- Lot’s of people who participate have fulltime careers, have children to look after, and may even be balancing a writing schedule along with a busy school schedule. It’s totally possible to forget to write one day, and chances are, you aren’t the only one.
- The most important thing to look at is this: You are making some sort of effort to write a novel. That itself is an amazing thing; to decide to write a novel and actually work to make it happen. Just putting in that effort is enough to make you a winner.
Read a book, finish that paper, maybe even watch a movie. It’s important to pay attention to your mental health during this difficult time because it’s easy to ignore how you feel in order to power through. Trust me, the mental toll it may take is not worth it.
I have successfully managed to stress myself out so much that I am now very sick. Whether it’s just a coincidence, I’ll never know. Nor do I really care. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing entirely simply because “I don’t feel like doing it right now”, but rather knowing when you need to stop before you push yourself too far.
What I have been doing is reading books that are in the same genre of the novel I am working on, so I can call it research. Not only does this make me feel less guilty about taking a break, but I can still get some work done while I am relaxing.
I know it’s tempting to pour an extra cup of coffee in order to stay up just a little bit longer to get to that word count goal, but there are times where it is more important to get some sleep instead. This one is especially important for the students out there that have to be awake at an extremely early time.
Yeah, focusing on your future career as a novelist is pretty important, but so is school. It’s alright to pull a few all-nighters now and then (I am 100% guilty of unintentionally doing that many times for the sake of reading/writing), but overdoing it can be pretty bad for your health.
I’m not a huge fan of sleep; if it wasn’t for the need for sleep I would be able to get so much more done. But you need a working brain to continue working on your novel, so make sure to get your eight hours of sleep as much as possible!
That’s it for my (hopefully) helpful advice to help you get through the rest of this month! I’m sure that everyone currently participating in NaNoWriMo is creating some great first drafts as I type this post, and I will now go work on my novel. No matter where you are with your goal right now, don’t give up! As long as you keep trying then there is no way you can lose.