There aren’t many days left till the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo ends this year. Don’t panic. Grab that towel…
Wait, we’re not traveling the universe, you say? Well, it can still be useful as a writer, since while you write you will be traveling to your story universe. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll listen to Douglas Adams, who once said “a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” (FYI: Don’t forget Towel Day, May 25!)
So beside that towel, what else would help you as you get through the next few days. Well, from my own experience during NaNoWriMo in November, last year, I found a few things were really useful. Though you have some virtual cabin mates through the Camp NaNoWriMo site, I hope you were able to find a writer friend near by who is also partipating, if not as them if they are interested in writing along with you. It gives you chance to have someone to talk to. Kind of like how Sherlock talks to John about cases, because talking to skulls isn’t acceptable. They will help you give you the motivation to continue, and hopefully buy you tea, if you ask them nicely. Plus you’re also able to do sprints together. You can do them online, and they work just as well. There’s just something about being cafe, and writing as much as you can in 25 minutes, taking a break, and then having a few more sprints.
I find that this simple Pomodoro Timer* works great (but if you can’t get this free app then try a kitchen timer or a stopwatch). Plus Pomodoro gives you an option after 25 minutes, if you want a 5 min break or a long break. For some reason I keep selecting the long break. It feels like a reward for writing those sprints. During the break, you can chat with your friend and/or listen to music (this is if you do the online version because you can type and listen to music at the same time).
Another good tip is to make sure you schedule time that you will be writing, no matter what. What seems to work best for me lately is scheduling sprint times during the week with a writing buddy. Then on Fridays I meet up with that writing buddy in person at a cafe, and have fun writing for as long as we’re able to. Yesterday, I got a chance to see two writing buddies, Freyja and Gloria. It doesn’t have to be only one, it can be several. Which ever works best for you. So far, Freyja and I have been giving each other support during this Camp NaNoWriMo session, which has been awesome.
Now before you begin this crazy fun journey to the end of this month, remember that Writer’s Block can be beaten, and that you’re not alone. First all, the break times will help you feel better, and give your mind a chance to explore where to go next without the worry of trying to place the words onto the page.
Things you can do to help remove that Writer’s Block:
1) Meditative mind-set; or progressive relaxation exercises can help relax your body and mind for better work. Exercise is not only healthy for you but can take away stress. Stress can really effect your body and mind. If you think that might take up too much time, just do a bit of basic breathing. Close your eyes, and slowly breath in and breath out for a little while.
2) Find a good location to write. If you’re not, go some where and try to write. It might help give a new perspective.
3) Read your work out loud. This is useful when trying to edit your work, right now you don’t need to edit until Camp NaNoWriMo session is over, but I believe reading it out loud can let you see how the story is going. Don’t let your inner critic tell you that it’s terrible. Just remember that your inner editor will be able to have fun later.
4) Journal: you can either write about what you’re struggling with, or you could even create your own written interview with your characters. Ask them what they are dealing with, what they want to do, and what they hope to accomplish. You might learn more than you ever thought possible.
5) Organize as much as possible, and at your finger tips. So if you need a dictionary, a drink of water, or story notes. They are close by, and ready to reach. Don’t forget to get that List for Writers app, if you have a smart phone.
6) Keep your plot points, your last line you’ve written, and other ideas on index cards. That way you see them right way before you turn on the computer, or open your note pad, and it helps you jog your memory. My friend Gloria mentioned this to me yesterday.
7) Be open to the world around you. Use all your senses, you’ll find that life can inspire art.
8) Read when you can. I know it’s tough, especially during NaNoWriMo, but it helps. Or try to read as much as possible before you do NaNoWriMo. Some times watching good tv shows, can also give you the inspiration and show you how to create a story.
9) List what you’ll do next. Plus you’ll have a little guideline while you write.
10) Write what you know, and forget what you don’t know yet. As you write, your mind will start to figure it out. Reflect on what you’ve planned, written so far, and begin to think about what would work best as your ending. Think of all the possible endings that could work for you story, and then pick the one that is best suited for you. If you write it, and it doesn’t seem to work. Try another ending, and see how that goes. If all else fails, call a friend and ask them which ending would work best.
11) Get sleep, eat, and do those important things you need to do each day. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Before I let you go write, I just wanted to let you know I’ll be a guest judge for my friend Wendy’s #5MinuteFiction this coming Tuesday at 8:30 pm EST. As well, you can keep up with my Camp NaNoWriMo progress (here), and let’s cheer each other all the way to the finish line.
* Update: The timer app has changed names, and setup. If you find an app similar to the one I’ve mentioned, please let me know. I would really appreciate it. Thank you.
I haven’t written much for Camp NaNoWriMo. Although it’s only been one day so far, and I have about 29 more days to go. Today is a new day that I can write as much as possible. The problem with starting yesterday was that there were so many distractions. Even though I have fewer distractions today, I have a few things to do in the afternoon. So I should be writing right now on my story since I have time right now. I just wanted to make a quick update about my progress.
The first days of writing are tough. “Actually, writing is easy. Writing well is hard,” said Richard Castle (FYI: his birthday was yesterday! No joke!) on his official blog. I know he’s a fictional character on a TV show, but he has really good advice for writers you just have to be alert. Several TV script writers have written his character well. So much so that a fictional author advice to me is just as impactful as the real-life authors. Anyways, yesterday when I was struggling with my writing. I remembered something that Castle had said, and I quickly searched Google (because I thought it was a quote he said in the show) and it brought be back to a previous blog post on his official author website. I remembered reading it before, but it seemed to make sense yesterday more than before. Now I don’t have a job right now, but I am shadowing to learn more about teaching to prepare me for grad school. So I have time to write though I do have a few things to do this month (including the shadowing time). Therefore, what he talks about balancing writing bestsellers and his “day job,” doesn’t really apply to me right now but his advice still works. He talks about researching has helped him not only for inspiration to find what he wants to write, but also affects his writing. “It can help instill a sense of powerful authenticity in one’s work. It can spark great moments of discovery, open avenues of storytelling, and give one great insight into deeply rich and complex human experience,” said Castle about research on his blog post.
That was what my main concern was on day one. Did I do enough planning and research before diving into writing this novela? I wasn’t too sure, but I felt that it was better to write something than nothing at all. Maybe in the process of writing I’ll figure out what I do know, and what I need to research later when I begin to edit my work. He had begun his blog post by explain about procrastination. Maybe in the process of writing this post, I’m doing just that, procrastinating. But I keep insisting that this will help me in a few minutes when I work on my story for a bit before I have to go to the university campus for my shadowing.
Castle began his blog post, and said, “Like most writers, I indulge in a healthy meditative practice known as procrastination. Some people consider it an act of avoidance, but for me procrastination is a vital artistic process. In fact, procrastination creates the adrenalin rush I need to write effectively.” Something about the words reassured me. I had procrastinated a bit with the planning/research stage, even though I’m a planner. Like I mentioned before, I needed to know at least the basic information to at least start my story. Yesterday I was able to start the story. It may not have been perfect, but that’s what editing is for. “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike say, a brain surgeon,” said Robert Cormier. This was another quote that reassured me as well. I have to keep a constant reminder that what I’m writing for Camp NaNoWriMo is a first rough draft, and that I can edit later.
The great thing about Camp NaNoWriMo is that my novella has a deadline. Having a deadline, isn’t too new to me with college and newspaper, but I find it’s necessary for me especially when it’s a larger project. I enjoy getting pep talks, and updating my progress, on the their site… especially chatting with other writers who are participating as well. Everything about NaNoWriMo is amazing, no matter if it’s in November or another month. I could tell you a lot, but you really just have to experience it for yourself, if you haven’t already.
This most important things are scheduling time to write, and making sure you have focus while you’re writing. As soon as you have the flow going, you just have to ride the wave. Then when the wave ends, you just have to quickly find a new one, and just keep writing as much as you can. This is what I’m going to try to do. Though no actual waves, I can’t surf… unless you count the internet, haha.
Now I really should go eat brunch, and start writing on my novella before I have to leave… Don’t worry, I’ll have time to write more later…
To all those who are participating in Camp NaNoWriMo: keep writing, and remember, we can get to our goals!
You can keep up with my progress by checking my Camp NaNoWriMo profile. Thanks for all the support!!