With Camp NaNoWriMo in full swing – and with any writing endeavor – staying motivated when writing a novel is one key to success.
This post originally appeared on Cara Lockwood’s blog. Reposted with permission.
Whether you’re writing a novel in a month for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), or you’re simply trying to finish that gripping fantasy novel you’ve been working on for ten years, it can be hard to stay motivated while writing.
As a novelist, I find that there are days when the words flow easily, and others when even writing the first sentence feels about as easy as climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops.
While I love writing, and I can’t imagine not doing it for a living, I also know that there are days when I’d rather do almost anything other than face the pages I have to write. Every distraction, even laundry or the gym, looks like a more fun way to spend my afternoon. Here are some tips for getting and staying motivated while you write your novel:
Write something every day even if it’s terrible.
When I’m facing down a deadline, I don’t take a day off. I try to live with my characters as much as possible so that any time I open up my computer file, I don’t have to waste time bringing myself up to speed by figuring out what I wrote a week ago and where I am in the story. Writing every day helps keep your characters fresh. It also will help the words flow.
Tell your inner critic to take a hike.
At one time or another, all authors have a crisis of confidence in their writing abilities, but when you’re trying to hit a tight deadline, the fact is you just don’t have time to worry about whether you have enough talent to even be doing this. Get words down on paper and then worry later if they’re any good. It is far easier to edit a bad manuscript than to write one from scratch.
Make reasonable goals for yourself and stick to them.
The key here is to be reasonable in your daily page-count goal. I think of daily page goals as minimums and I always try to exceed them. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, it feels really good.
Find a place to write that will ensure you won’t get distracted.
For me, this happens to be at the local Starbucks with my headphones on and my WiFi turned off. I refuse to let myself check email or Facebook or Twitter until I finish the pages I plan to do that day.
Don’t think about how much more you have to do.
Concentrate on what you’ve done already. This is the writer’s equivalent of “Don’t look down.” If you start worrying about how many pages or words you have left to write, you might find yourself with a pretty hefty case of vertigo and get stuck from sheer fright. For me, after writing every day, I print my pages out. I like to read over them on the train on the way home or before I go to bed. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment. As I hold the papers in my hand, I can really see how much writing I am doing every day. As my stack of pages grows, so does my confidence.
Remember that deadlines are the world’s greatest motivator.
Even as you’re cursing the fact that you signed on to make what seems like an impossible deadline, remember that this is just the universe’s way of inspiring you to finish.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and write!
Looking for a way to get motivated and set some deadlines? Camp NaNoWriMo is happening NOW! Camp NaNoWriMo, which occurs in April and July, follows the same concept as NaNoWriMo, but welcomes shorter word counts and a variety of projects, including novels, plays, scripts, and screenplays.
Images via ShutterStock.com.