Have you ever had days where you feel like you have a limited number of words in you and once you hit it, you can’t produce anymore?
That is me this week.
National Novel Writing Month is well under way now and I’ve been meaning to write this blog post, but since I have hit the dreaded and sticky Week Two Tar Pits, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ve hit 21,000 words on my NaNo project and I’m deep in a funk where everything I write is wrong, my motivation is low, and I have effectively blasted through all of my ideas.
A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
But let me cut to the chase.
I wanna hit that 50K. I wanna hit it so bad, so I can’t afford to give up. I’m working on an awesome new idea, my collaborator is counting on me, so I have to keep showing up. And things are only going to get harder in week three before they get better.
That being said, here is a list of ten things you can do to put some wind in your story sails during the hardest part of NaNoWriMo.
Review Your Outline (If Applicable)
Take a minute and remind yourself of where you are going. Is the scene you are writing building towards that end goal? If not, what can you add to help your characters/plot be built towards that ultimate climax?
Listen to Music
Listen to music that reflects the mood and tone of your story. It can help you concentrate, concoct scenes and get into the flow. Allow the music to sink you into the story.
Reread Your Manuscript
Go back and read what you have written up to this point. Chances are you will find an interesting plot point here or there you started teasing in or that magically appeared out of your subconscious that you can use to propel your story/characters through or into Act II.
Revisit Character Priorities
Ask yourself what is the one thing that is of the utmost importance to your character? What can you do to put that thing in danger?
For example, I was stuck on how to raise the stakes in Act II for this project, until I realized that the only thing my main character really cares about is his little brother. Time to put the brother in danger!
Respect the Burnout Without Quitting
This is a hard one to coach on, but my best advice on this is if you’re having an off or really bad day, accept that the day is what it is, your energy is what it is, and do your very best not to make it a zero word day for NaNoWriMo. Write for as long/much as you can handle and then stop. Sometimes, you just have to be okay with fewer words.
Go With Your Flow
Occasionally, you gotta write out of order to get any words in. Skip around to write that scene that you are super excited about. You might get some ideas of what groundwork needs to be laid in order to set that scene up perfectly, which can give you fuel to go back to the beginning and keep writing where you got stuck.
Accept the Bad Writing and Keep Going
Take a minute and acknowledge the feelings of “my writing is crap” and “I don’t like it,” but keep pushing through. At some point in your “bad” prose, foundational bricks for ideas can be found. But unless you are actively sifting, sometimes, they won’t surface.
Switch How You Write
Swapping a laptop for a phone or for handwriting can do wonders for the flow of a story. It can crank your brain out of one gear (the one that has the rut in it) and put it in another place so the words can flow more freely.
Move Your Body
Go take a walk. Do some Yoga. Run. Walk up and down your stairs. Do something, anything, to get your body moving and blood pumping to your brain. Use that time of mindless movement to think about your story and the parts you are struggling with. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll come up with.
Go to Bed and Try Again Tomorrow
There will be days that you can’t win. However, not every day is going to be like that. Do what you can today, but get some rest, knowing you’ll have another chance tomorrow.
Good luck, Wrimos! You got this!
What strategies do you use to generate story ideas when you feel stuck?