Nanowrimo – To Use All Year (not just November)

  For many of us writers, we look forward to November every year for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The website is awesome, it provides goal trackers, motivating articles, interviews and blog posts, and connects you with other writers around the world. Many of us meet up with local writers at locally-scheduled write-ins, parties, contests, prizes and fun. The annual goal of participating in NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words – to write the first draft of a novel, all during the month of November. Many writers spend the rest of the year planning and outlining in preparation for writing in November.

Nanowrimo Virtual Camps

So if you’re ready to try and write a whole novel in November, you’re all set. Sometimes, though, my writing timing doesn’t line up with that (though I try to plan it so that it does). In 2017, I was revising the novel I had finally finished (with the help of previous Nanowrimo’s). So there’s another website called Camp NaNoWriMo. They have virtual writing camps throughout the year, where you get paired up with online cabin-mates for a specific month (usually April and July).

The beauty of the camps is that you can set whatever goal you need for that month. So when revising I set an hourly goal – 50 hours of revising for the month, for example.

All of these are immensely useful in providing structure, a deadline, motivation and support for us writers trying to actually write.

Nanowrimo Writing

But here I am in February, sometimes struggling to get in the word count I need in my current writing project.

Having some kind of structure helps me so much.

Well, enter nano wrimo once again! I recently discovered that on their main website, under “My NaNoWriMo,” they have a Goal Tracker. So anytime during the year, you can set up any kind of goal and use the site to track it for you, with whatever deadline you give it.

There’s just something about updating my word count on a daily basis and seeing my little graph go up and meet my deadline. I’ve always been a charts & stars person. (“Here’s a golden star for you today, Jerilyn!”)

Nanowrimo Young Writers

I’m fifty-one years old. But these tools are helpful for any writers at any age, especially nanowrimo young writers. Keeping up with a chart, updating daily word count goals, all of that, is so helpful.

Writing Goals Work – Especially for a Freelance Writer

Setting and structuring and updating your writing goals work. Whether you’re a freelance ghost writer working from home, like me, or working steadily on your own novel. Did you know that nanowrimo also offers extra tools like writing prompts, ideas to overcome writer’s block, forums, velociraptors and awesome merch?

Take Advantage of Nanowrimo (it’s free)

I am not affiliated with them in any way, and their tools are free – they live off of donations and their shop merchandise. I just love using all that nanowrimo has to offer, as it has helped me so much in own writing journey. Whether I’m doing my freelance writing (ghost-writing at the moment), or working on my own novel, setting and tracking writing goals works really well.

A Bit of Improv Writing from Me to You

Here’s a bit of my own writing, totally off the cuff and not edited, from a writing prompt I did recently:

Ridge came fully awake. He was lying on the cold cave floor, deep underground. Something was strange – what was that sensation on his front hip? He looked down and saw a slight bulge – something was in his left front pocket.

He reached inside and pulled out a miniature pyramid made of limestone, pale and perfectly proportioned. It was like an exact replica of Khufu’s Pyramid.

“Am I still in the pyramid?” He looked about. Yes, he was in the cave, the deep subterranean chamber under the Great Pyramid. “How did that get in my pocket?” He examined it. It pulsed, like a throbbing heart, in his palm. For a second it glowed, reflecting light from his dark eyes.

“Ridge, what is that?” Ash asked. She reached her hand out and the boy put it in her palm. It looked dull and dead, just plain stone, in her hand.

“Do you feel anything?” he asked.

She shrugged. “No, it’s like a souvenir. Where did it come from?”

“I don’t know, it just appeared in my pocket.” She handed it back and he held it for a long minute, then closed his hand and crushed it to crumbles of stone and dust…

(This was some Improv Writing I did at a recent Pike’s Peak Writer’s half-day conference preview workshop (Write Your Heart Out 2019). I’d never tried Improv Writing before, it’s just like Improv Acting – you’re given a one-sentence prompt, two seconds to think, then you write without any editing or revising, for seven – ten minutes – the moderator sets the time.)

Congratulations if you’ve gotten this far into this article. Google has some strange rules now, if I don’t write an article with at least one thousand words in it, it won’t do well in the search rankings. But most blog posts, all that I’ve done in my writing life, are closer to five hundred words. So this is a bit ridiculous. Why force a writer to write one thousand words, when a good writer can convey the information you need in five hundred?

So if you’ve gotten this far, great job! Leave a comment below with the phrase “Google can be so ridiculous sometimes” and I’ll see if I have a prize for you, or at least will acknowledge your comment.

Here’s another fun contest. Can you identify which are the keywords I was targeting in this post? Yes, I write what’s on my heart but I use the keyword and educational tools at Wealthy Affiliate to help me get my posts out there, so people can actually find them. I used five keywords / keyword phrases in this article. I will find you a prize for that! (Maybe something from my house.)

Motivate Yourself to Write – How I Did It

motivate yourself to writeWhen you embark as a writer, one of your first and earliest challenges is: how do I make myself actually sit down and write? We have no boss, no time-clock, no paycheck to motivate us, and we have to fit it into our already busy lives earning a living, caring for family, etc. How do you motivate yourself to write?

Get Inspired

Do you remember when you first got that great idea? You were so excited and writing from an inspired idea charges your batteries like nothing else – it’s fun!

Working from the energy of inspiration will help you a lot. Do whatever you need to get back into that inspired place again, whether it’s reading what you’ve written so far, brainstorming over your idea, meditating on it, talking to someone who is equally excited about it. I don’t suggest talking about it too much, however, as you don’t want all that inspired energy to dissipate in just talking about your idea. But if you have a close friend or two who loves your idea as much as you do, discuss it with them and let their enthusiasm keep you going.

Looking for inspiration? When I decided I wanted to write a novel, I asked and prayed for an inspired idea. Next morning I awoke with the first few sentences in my head – my life has never been the same.

Get Structure

Sometimes a little structure goes a long way. To motivate yourself to write is often as simple as building a daily or weekly habit – modifying your schedule and putting it in as an appointment. Keep this appointment. Some people like to make themselves write every day – they’ll make a goal of one sentence a day (which usually leads to many more sentences), or one hour a day, or 1,000 words a day or week. You can start small like 15 minutes a day – again, it usually leads to much more. Or maybe you’ll set aside one or two days or evenings a week to work at your writing desk.

Getting started is the biggest hurdle. Setting even a tiny goal like those above gets you past this hurdle and into your writing groove.

Other habits you may want to build and incorporate:

  • Spend time writing in your personal journal each day. Once you start doing this you’ll see just how cathartic and fulfilling daily writing is.
  • One writer I know finishes the previous day’s writing mid-sentence, so that he can pick up on that same thought immediately next day to transition back into writing mode.
  • Build “getting ready to write” rituals to help you get into writing mode. This may be just making yourself a coffee, or meditating or brainstorming briefly before writing.
  • Go somewhere to write, like a coffee shop. This will minimize distractions at home and help you to focus.
  • Participate in local or virtual writing groups and aids, like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). These provide awesome structure that is not solely reliant on you.

Get Accomplices

Writing with a group is a surefire way to keep you motivated. Try out several local writing groups to see which one is the best fit for you. I tried one at first, which I liked, but their focus was not on getting our novels done – what I needed. I found another group on Meetup, they meet every other Monday night and the focus is getting our novels finished – we write and submit around 2,000 words a week in that group. The feedback is amazing and I was able to grow as a writer and finish my first novel (after around ten years of on and off writing).

Take advantage of online virtual groups like NaNoWriMo as well. Besides the big writing month every November, Camp NaNoWriMo hosts several virtual writing camps throughout the year to help you reach whatever writing goal you set. I used these camps to set hourly monthly goals for revising and editing my novel.

Know Yourself

Everyone is unique, and what works for one will not work for another. Are you an early morning person? Set your daily writing appointment for early morning. Night person? Set it for night-time. Are you more motivated to write after a brisk walk outside? Does it help you to study a book about the craft of writing? Do you need to meet up with another writer to write together once a week? Or have a close friend hold you accountable to your goals? Are you motivated by a chart where you can add shiny stars each day you meet your writing goal?

Figure out what makes you tick, which tools and tricks motivate you, and use them – use your own personality quirks – to your best advantage. Outsmart yourself.

Get the Ball Rolling

Though it’s often hard at first to get into the regular habit of writing, once you master this and write consistently, you will discover how much fun it is. The ball will get rolling and then it’s easy – you find yourself writing on a consistent basis and getting your work done. You may have setbacks here or there, but you’ll quickly pick it back up again. This is one habit that once you master it, it becomes easy – like riding a bike.

And hopefully soon you’ll start making money from your writing – the best motivator of all.

What tricks have helped motivate you to write? I’d love to hear them – please comment below.