When November and #NaNoWriMo begins, there is no shortage of great ideas, inspiration, and motivation. You sit down at the computer convinced that by the time December rolls around, you’ll have easily surpassed 50,000 words.
Then life gets in the way.
Maybe something throws you off after only a few days of writing. Maybe you fall behind on your word count, and start to fear that you can never catch up. The dreaded writer’s block hits. Your characters just aren’t doing what they are told, but keep running off on adventures of their own. Nothing is going right, and that 50,000 finish line is drifting further and further away.
Don’t give up yet!
We may be halfway through the month, but we have faith in you. No matter how far behind you have fallen, you can still catch up. That idea that you had two weeks ago is still waiting to be brought to life, and we’ve got some great ways to fix whatever it is that’s keeping you from achieving your NaNo goals.
One of the biggest issues with actually getting those words on the page is that there is just so much else to do! The laundry is piling up, homework is calling to you, and social media is a black hole for time. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to shut out the world and devote yourself to your novel.
Apps and Add Ons
The internet is a wonderful thing (especially for research) but it’s just full of distracting things and pictures of cats. Luckily, there are some amazing apps and browser add-ons out there to stop you hitting refresh on Facebook yet again.
FocusWriter is a simple wordprocessing program that lets you customize your background and melts everything else away. No browsers open, no desktop icons, just some smooth and clear space behind your words. It’s free, and perfect if you just want to declutter your desktop for writing time.
If you need a program to be a little more stern with you, AntiSocial shuts off your access to social media for anywhere from 15mins to 8 hours – it’s up to you. Set timed blackouts on specific sites, so that you can guarantee you won’t give in to the lure of Tumblr anymore.
Or, for the truly hardcore, there’s always Write or Die. This program allows you to set a time period to write in (say, one hour), and if at any point within that time you pause for more than a few moments, it will start to delete your work. That’s right – if you can’t keep the words coming, you will lose the ones you have already written. Definitely something for the adrenaline junkies, write or die has been described as writing with a gun to your head. Effective, though.
It’s always worth leaving the house to write, too. Yes, it can feel a bit pretentious to sit and write in public, but if it prevents you from jumping up to wash the dishes or just do this one thing that you should really do, it’s worth it. However, it can also be noisy and distracting in itself. Sit facing a wall, if you can, and grab some noise-cancelling headphones and a bookish coffee cup before you settle in to writing bliss. Feeling like heading somewhere other than a coffee shop but still need your morning joe to get your mind up to speed? A writing-themed travel mug or two is sure to do the trick.
It’s easy to procrastinate instead of write. (It’s easy to procrastinate instead of doing just about anything!) Sometimes, you need a little something to give you that extra push toward getting the words on the page. The NaNoWriMo site itself is just packed with different tools to help you keep going, but there are a few more options if you need a little extra push.
If you would rather see your writing goals and accomplishments without having to turn on your computer, try this free word count printable from All Indie Writers. Create a calendar for the month (or the rest of the month) with your daily goals and your achievements, and stick it somewhere that you will see it when you first wake up. It’s easy to ignore the website word counters, but stick this next to your sock drawer, and it will be a constant reminder that you should be writing.
If that’s not enough, stick it next to this sign (or make your own version!) by Tiny House Prints. Buy a few and stick them up in every room, because they’re right. You SHOULD be writing!
If you would rather the carrot than the stick, you can always check out some of the lists of NaNo novels that have made it into the realms of published books. Just make sure that you get straight to writing afterwards, and not drift off into daydreams of fame and fortune as the next JK Rowling! (change to relevant author?)
Writer’s block is the bane of a novelist’s existence. Sitting, staring at the screen, willing the words to come. The important thing to remember is that it isn’t fatal. There are plenty of ways to get the creative juices flowing again, from going for a short walk (which is trite, but true) to trying something a little bit different.
Like Plinky or One Word provide you with randomly generated writing prompts, so that you can give up on whatever scene is plaguing you, and just write something different. It may seem silly, but once you get the words flowing again, you may be surprised to see what happens!
Or, for a bit more of a physical option, try and knock the words (or the stress) out of your head with this lovely sign. Can’t get it in time for the end of November? Just write the words and tape ‘em to the wall. Instant relief!
The Magic Ingredient
Finally, if there is one thing that will get it done, it’s coffee. Coffee is the fuel for writing, and if you are going to churn out those 50,000 words, you are going to need to caffeinate! Snatch up a writing-inspired mug, or two or three.
However you plan to reach the end of your NaNo journey, just remember one thing: apps and accessories aside, just don’t stop writing! Good luck, novelists!