So you’ve been chug-a-lugging so far and now you’re stuck. You’re no longer flying through words, and your stamina is fading. So what do you do when you find yourself staring at the screen with no more words to write? Here’s a few tips I've learned over the years to beat the block:
• Create a new character. Sometimes an interesting new person in your novel will push the story forward and add additional interest.
• Browse Pinterest for inspiration. Maybe create a board?
• Skip around. You don't have to write a novel from beginning to end. Don’t know where you're going with this chapter? Move on to the next one.
• Which brings me to scene writing. Sometimes I don't know where I want to go with a novel but certain scenes are vivid in my mind, so I write those. Then I worry about how to put them together later.
• If you're like me, you have several story ideas written in your dozens of pretty notebooks. Try weaving one of those stories into your current WIP.
• Take a break. Sometimes your imagination fairy needs a day off. Do whatever relaxes you.
• Get out of the house. Step away from the distractions of home and find solace in a coffee shop, library, or park.
• And if you still feel uninspired by this WIP, start another project. It’s okay, really. Not every story is meant to be finished, and you can always work on it later. Maybe your heart is simply pushing you to write something different.
Remember, all words are good words in your first draft. Write just to write. There's no pressure. Set realistic goals and forgive yourself if you stray a bit. Writing shouldn't feel like a job as much as a passion.
Write passionately and ignore word counts. You’re the only one who can tell your story, so despite what your stubborn character may try to convince you, he/she will wait.
It's November, and for writers across the land, the craziest month of the year. We will scramble to write pretty words, will consume ungodly amounts of coffee, gain five pounds from stress-eating chocolate, and flutter around in our own lil book worlds for the entire month. Sounds like fun, right?
It is. It truly is. When the whole world around you feels like it's all caught the same book fever you have year-round, it's delightful. There is a downside, though. With 50,000 words to conquer and such little time to do it, sometimes we tend to run instead of sprint when the gun is fired. But we, smart people as we are, know this isn't a race. I mean, it doesn't matter that your best online friend has already written 15,000 words on their supposedly "new" WIP, and you've only written a measly 2,000. It doesn't matter that every time you look on your Twitter feed you're reminded of all the impressively disciplined people who are seemingly #amwriting every hour of the day. You, my dear friend, have a life. And while 15,000 words on day four seems impressive, let's see how well this hare fares by day thirty.
The key to winning is persistence. The hare starts faster, goes further, but eventually gets distracted.
Remember: Distraction is the root of all evil.
The goal and key to being productive anytime, not just in NaNoWriMo, is to be the tortoise. It's slow, yet steady. Determined yet mindful of its hurdles. It just keeps pressing on. So I encourage you whether you are off to a fabulous start, are just barely making headway, or haven't even started at all, just write some everyday you can. Never be ashamed of your word count. All words are good words. (At least during the first draft.)
It's not about how fast you get there. It's not even about getting there by the end of November. It's about the journey, the story, and the characters you meet along the way.
Vanessa K. Eccles
Books, life, and travel.
Author of FABLED, RED RIBBONS, and OF LOVE & LEGEND // Founder of The Faithful Creative Magazine