Finding creative momentum

write a novel

Camp NaNoWriMo can help you clear your hurdles and find the creative momentum you need to write a novel.

One of the biggest benefits of NaNoWriMo for me is the creative momentum it spawns, even beyond November. Each year I’m energized by the imaginative sparks (and sometimes flames) that result from immersing myself in writing. I also learn (and relearn) important things about time management, discipline, and the value of writing with others.

But… sometimes the very creative momentum I prize so much wanes in the general hecticness of life. The monstrous bite of my to-do list can be scarier than any of my antagonists’ snarls. This year, I’m asking myself how to nurture the writing breakthroughs I’ve experienced this month and find ways to keep them going year-round.

I just discovered one simple technique: savor the good experiences of writing because momentum is fed by positive thoughts. According to Fred Bryant, a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago, just by reflecting on your feelings during positive events, you can better incorporate those activities into your life and keep good things going when it comes to anything, including your efforts to write a novel.

Here are some of Bryant’s savoring techniques:

  1. Give thanks. It’s easy to take good experiences for granted. I’m pausing, especially today, to bow in gratitude to the multitudinous muses of November. I didn’t have this novel in October. I wouldn’t have it now without NaNoWriMo. A whole new world exists, and I want to keep exploring it. (By the way, there’s a vibrant NaNo Facebook gratitude session going on. It’s good to read engage in others’ thanks as well).
  2. Congratulate yourself. Don’t hesitate to pat yourself on the back and take credit for your hard work, Bryant says. Research shows that people who revel in their successes are more likely to enjoy the outcome. Yes, sometimes our humility can get in the way—so give yourself the wildest, whooping high five you can imagine.
  3. Share your good feelings with others. Whether you wrote 5,000 words or 50,000, you’ve done something pretty dang big: you made creativity a priority in your life. You’re now a role model of imaginative derring-do for others. Spread the gospel. Revel in it.
  4. Take a mental photograph. Pause for a moment and consciously think about what was fun, meaningful, life expanding, wacky, or wonderful about writing a novel this month. Focus on those moments going forward, and banish any memories of painful writer’s block or sleep-deprived eyes.
  5. Look back on your accomplishment from the future. Think about yourself years from now looking back on the novel you wrote this month. You could have spent the month watching Smurf reruns or practicing your aim with a squirt gun, but you did something unforgettable. You did something big. You wrote a novel.

What are some ways you’re savoring your novel?

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This post originally appeared on the NaNoWriMo blog (reposted with permission). National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is the ambitious concept of writing a complete novel in 30 days. Starting November 1st, authors start writing, with a goal of completing a 50,000-word novel by midnight November 30th. Camp NaNoWriMo, which occurs in April and July, follows the same concept, but welcomes shorter word counts and a variety of projects, including novels, plays, scripts, and screenplays. Learn more at or jump in and join Camp NaNoWriMo today.


The End


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