On NaNoWriMo Writing Blocks
You may have heard November is NaNoWriMo month. It’s a stressful, magical time, because you can complete a novel by writing 1,667 words each day, or 50,000 words in a month. For the sake of both productivity and sanity, you must learn to ignore your inner critic. (Translation: Stop editing, stop rewriting, and just get the darn words on the dang page.)
I’ve got a perfectionist streak, so I sometimes have difficulty with this. When the words flow like water, I’m fine. On the days it’s like pulling teeth, I have a tendency to go back and rewrite and re-rewrite.
Does the example below look familiar to you?
It was a dark and stormy night.
(Too boring. Spice it up. Delete. Insert. Delete.)
It was dark, and stormy enough to raise Broderick’s hackles.
(*sighs* Broderick? Hackles? Too cheesy? Maybe. Delete. Insert. *grabs a cup of coffee*)
It was a dark and stormy night. Drake prowled his bedroom in the inky gloom. It was storming enough outside to make the windows rattle.
(Yes! Great! Keep going! Delete! Delete! Insert! Insert! Insert!)
It was a dark and stormy night. Drake prowled his bedroom in the inky gloom. It was blowing hard enough outside to raise his hackles and make the windows rattle. When the eerie sound of a banshee’s wail floated into the room, he grabbed a poker by the fire and tip-toed to the door, raising it overhead.
(#!%@&! This is supposed to be a romance, not a ghost story. Maybe a ghostly romance? *grabs a bar of emergency chocolate* )
It was a dark and stormy night. Drake prowled his bedroom in the inky gloom. It was blowing hard enough outside to raise his hackles and make the windows rattle. When the eerie sound of a banshee’s wail floated into the room, he grabbed a poker by the fire and tip-toed to the door. A ghostly figure drifted in — her pale, beautiful face so sad it broke his heart. She reached out to Drake with long, ivory fingers, imploring him. Beseeching.
(No. No, no, no. Crap-o-la. Delete. Delete. Deletedeletedeletedeletedeletedeletedeletedelete.)
It was a dark and stormy night.
That’s bat-shit crazy. To avoid the insanity, try writing sprints. You write as hard as you can for 15 or 20 minutes before taking a break. We’re talking about nonstop typing here. Forget about typos or sentence structure. Just get the words down on the page. It’s amazing how much you can write in a short period of time.
They’re not always great words. But you can’t edit a book unless you’ve finished it, and you can’t finish a book if you insist on editing it before it’s complete.
If I’m really stuck and the faucet won’t turn on, these three things also work:
- Music — Classical and New Age are my go-tos, but whatever gives you energy is the music to use.
- Physical movement — For some reason, if I get up and walk around the room, my stuckness disappears and the words start flowing again. Three to five minutes is usually enough.
- Coffee — I’m off caffeine, so I do decaf. (Gasp!) Not sure if it’s the physical action of making coffee or the small amount of caffeine in decaf, but it works.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I feel your joy and your pain. Don’t give up! Keep writing.
What have you been doing to get your NaNoWriMo on? Let me know in the comments below. (Be sure to make any comments especially long if you want them to count towards your Nano goal for the day.)