How to just keep going, and going

Step in to my office...actually wait, no, don't!
Step in to my office…actually wait, no, don’t!

It’s now November 13th – how are all you NaNoWriMo-ers getting on? (That’s National Novel-Writing Month to those not in the know, which happens to be NOW). I have 15,000 words, which is not up to NaNo standards but ahead of my own target of 1,000 a day, and I’m pretty happy with it. Already I can see the way ahead emerging from fog, in a way I just couldn’t when I tried to plan things out. All I ended up with was a dry and rather bizarre list of scribbles. So, not planning is definitely what works for me. When I just write, it becomes totally logical what the characters should do next (for now anyway – I await the 30k crash with trepidation. It always comes).

I’ve also been spending time with my students, puzzling out the issue of where to find time (and energy) to write if you go to work early, don’t get any breaks, and come home frazzled. This is a problem that never really goes away but some things that work for me are:

-write before you do anything else. That means get up, make tea and whatever you need to do that takes less than five minutes, then back in bed with the laptop or notebook. Certainly DO NOT look at emails or Facebook first. I didn’t stick to this today and though I did write, it felt much harder.

PS it doesn’t matter what time you get up. I HAVE TESTED IT.

-turn off the part of your brain that says ‘that’s not good, you made a typo, you’ll have to rewrite that bit, wait, that plot point wasn’t there before!’ So, you can rewrite it. It’s very hard to turn this off but at this point, change NOTHING. Do this by:

-pretending you don’t have a delete button. At this point, once you go back at all, like Orpheus and Eurydice, you will be lost. Just keep going, fix it all later. At the moment I know I have a character who has three different surnames. In only 15,000 words. So what – I’ll fix it later.

-obviously, do not show it to anyone at this point. Even to get praise. imagine it’s a terrible furtive secret you must stop at nothing to conceal.

-protect that laptop, or USB, or notebook, as if it contains nuclear launch codes.

-why are you still using USBs?? It’s 2015! Get on Dropbox or One Drive! Avoid the horror of lost docs and fried hard drives.

-if the bed-office (the boffice, as I like to call it) doesn’t work for you (back pain, kids, non-understanding partner etc), then bribe yourself with a trip to a cafe on the way to work, or a nice coffee for the train ride in, or a muffin.

-if the computer thing doesn’t work, try longhand with a really nice notebook and pen

-if that doesn’t work either (no seat, commute too short, can’t work that early in the morning etc), try lunch breaks, or try to get to some NaNo write-ins (see their website for this). Write-ins foster an amazing sense of productivity, and if they have timed writing sprints it’s excellent for turning off the inner editor. Or write at the gym or wherever you can find 15 minutes.

I know it’s hard to find the time. But the best thing you can do, NaNo or no NaNo, is get into a daily writing habit (or at least 4/5 days a week if you can). Even 300 words is good. Just to give the story light and food inside you, and let it grow. GOOD LUCK. What are some of your tricks and treats for keeping going?

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Amanda says:

    I write in my car when I’m waiting for school/club pick-up/drop-off. I’m amazed by how much I can get done in short bursts. Oh, and also trying (mostly failing) to stay away Facebook etc.
    Good advice about just going with it, and doing the fixing later. I can see that I torture myself when I’m writing by giving myself too much extra work.

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