by Jillian Hermoso, Southeast Asia Blogger jaBlog!
It’s November again, and we all know what that means! It’s time for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as we writers call it. Everyone who decides to participate is going to have to write thousands of words a day. For those who are anxious they won’t be able to do it, I thought I’d share my personal tips on how to beat our biggest challenge in this event: getting into the writing mindset.
We’ve all gone through this. After finding the time, we’re finally going to write. We already wrote our outlines. But when it comes down to actually writing, we end up staring at a forced first sentence or worse, a blank page. That’s the most frustrating thing for writers. Especially during NaNoWriMo. We can’t have any of that, so I hope my article will be able to help you get over this.
Clear Your To-do List
Before getting started with any writing, do all that you have to do for that day. Do all of your errands, homework, projects, meetings, anything at all that needs to be done. If you don’t, it’ll still be lurking at the back of your mind while you’re writing. You’re going to lack focus, and you won’t be able to get the exhilarating momentum from writing continuously. When you’ve made sure that everything’s done and checked off, head on over to your favourite spot to write.
Once you’ve relaxed in your writing space, do yourself a favour and shut down your internet. Now I know this sounds ridiculous and I bet a lot of you are already thinking I’m crazy, but it’s the biggest distraction for us. Although I understand if you feel reluctant because writing stories require a lot of research. For those who really can’t write without the internet, I found an app called Cold Turkey. It temporarily blocks the websites of your choice, and you get to schedule when it starts and ends. It’s really amazing, and it’s gotten me to focus more than ever. Best of all, it’s free! But if you can afford it, why not just shut the internet down altogether to completely avoid distractions?
Write in Bursts
Finally, it’s time to write. But sometimes, it’s still going to feel sudden to get started just like that. The best solution to that are writing bursts. Get yourself a timer and set it to one or two minutes. Think of a random topic, anything at all like the people walking outside, or even a personal rant and write about it within that time limit. It untangles the mental knots in our heads and loosens us up for a smooth, free-flowing writing process. You can continue to make writing bursts until you feel that you’re ready.
Use a Timer
When you think it’s time to get started on your project, don’t put that timer away. Give yourself another time limit, but this time it’s an hour or even longer. Just make sure you don’t give yourself time to be distracted. The pressure will bring out that extra push in us to write as much as we can. But when that timer hits zero, you stop. No exceptions. Or else, the essence of the time limit will disappear. Making sure that you stop will leave you wanting to write more, and that’s okay. This means you’re definitely going to write the next day, and it’ll even give you time to think carefully about what you wrote for that day.
Don’t Force It
Lastly but most importantly, don’t force yourself to write. When it comes down to it, you should always pick quality over quantity. Forcing the words to come out of you won’t give you a story you’re proud of. All it’s going to do is make you feel frustrated and defeated. If you can’t write that day even after doing all of the tips I’ve given you, it’s okay. Give yourself this day to take a walk instead. Clear your head and get yourself ready for tomorrow instead.
With what I’ve told you, I hope you’re ready to give NaNoWriMo your best shot. It might seem intimidating now, but I swear to you, it’s one of the biggest thrills a writer can experience. Don’t miss out just because you think you won’t be able to do it. The point of this is to be productive and make you feel alive as a writer. The story inside your head is begging to be told, and no one else is going to do it but you. NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity to do just that.