Writing (And Procrastinating) During National Novel Writing Month
November is finally here, which means it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) For those of you who haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, it’s a challenge to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible.
I’ve attempted to do it it twice in the past with little to no writing to show. Having to write that much in a month gives me anxiety which then makes me not want to/not able to write. I’ve decided to switch up my goal for this year, and instead of finishing the first draft of a novel, I’m just going to make sure I write a little bit every day. I know that by starting off with a smaller goal, it’ll at least be attainable for me. And if I do end up making it to 50,000 words, I’ll throw myself a party and you’ll be invited.
Many people in the writing community take advantage of NaNoWriMo, and if you’re one of those people, It’s time to sit down with your notebook open to an empty page, or open an empty Word document on your laptop and begin to write! It’s that easy and that hard. Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a blank writing surface to motivate you to do everything else but write. It’s amazing just how much I can accomplish while I’m actively avoiding writing.
Here are some not-so-helpful tips on what to do when you need to write but would rather procrastinate instead:
- Wash the dishes. Fold the laundry. Vacuum. Organize the stacks of paper on your desk.
- Clean every inch of your living space so that it’s spotless and organized. Make everything literally sparkle.
- Fall down the YouTube rabbithole. Learn how to French Braid hair. Fall asleep while listening to ASMR videos. Find the weirdest video you possible can and send it to all of your friends.
- Go on Facebook for 5 minutes which will inevitably turn into 50 minutes. Read embarrassing posts on your wall from 2010 and cringe at your terrible use of grammar.
- Cry. Laugh. Cry some more.
- Make your fifth cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy it while snuggled up in a warm blanket.
- Do anything else that has nothing to do with writing.
The list above is only partially what happens when I’m avoiding doing the craft I love so much. I’ve walked away from writing this very article to go through my silverware drawer.
What do you tend to do when you’re procrastinating? Let me know in the comments, I’m curious.
Since I want to be helpful in this post as well, here are some tips to combat writer’s block and find inspiration for when you want/need to write. Included in the list are suggestions from my lovely writer friends on Facebook:
- Do word sprints. Set a two, three, or four minute timer on your phone then try to write as much as you can in that allotted time. You’ll be surprised what can come out.
- Writing Exercises and writing prompts. The internet is home to thousands of writing prompts, and a quick Google search can help give your story a kick-start.
- Buy a new notebook or pen for a burst of inspiration. This will sound crazy, but when I’m shopping for notebooks, I take my time and wait for the feeling of inspiration to wash over me.
- Jot down random thoughts as they pop into your head or free-write. Stream of consciousness writing can be a lot of fun and pull interesting ideas from the back of your mind. Even if what you write doesn’t end up making sense, the very act of writing may strike inspiration.
- Read. Read a fiction or non-fiction book, read an article online, or read some poetry. (This is also a great way to procrastinate while also helping yourself).
- Listen to music. Whether it’s classical or heavy metal, music can sometimes help when you’re stuck. Bonus points for listening to the music that your main character would listen to.
- Re-read something you’ve recently written. That can help get your mind back to writing, and you can also work on your edits while doing so.
- Change up your surrounding. Go for a walk, hike, or run to get some fresh fair. Go sit at a local café or people watch at the mall and take notes about your surroundings.
- Look through any ideas you’ve jotted down in a notebook or on your phone. Whenever I get an idea for a story or a character I make sure to write it down in my phone so that I can access it later.
I hope these tips help you on your journey through the month of November, and beyond. Be sure to put aside time each day for yourself to write and read. As with many other crafts, practicing and doing are the only ways to better yourself.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck! If you want to connect with me on the NaNoWriMo website click: here. Whether you’re shooting for the 50,000 word novel, or have a different goal, I know you can do it.