by Mindy Mayden, intern
November 1st arrives and the clock starts ticking. While some people may still be nursing a Halloween-candy sugar rush or peeling down their fake cobweb decorations, Wrimos are up, up, up, typing away, because November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo! For participants in NaNoWriMo, or Wrimos, as they affectionately call themselves, that strike of midnight on November 1st signals creativity, hope, and a time for passions to come to fruition.
NaNoWriMo started 20 years ago in 1999, and the goal for participating writers is straightforward, albeit lofty: to write 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. Signing up for NaNoWriMo is free, and they provide milestone checkmarks, a social support network, writing meet-up events, and more. NaNoWriMo is a non-profit (like us here at Bright Sky!), so they also support writing, literacy, and education around the world and in thousands of classrooms.
As inspiring and helpful as NaNoWriMo is, most writers at some point during the month will find themselves struggling with the “Big Block.” 50,000 words is no small feat, and writing 50,000 words in just 30 days is even more daunting. To help, we’ve rounded up some tips for ways you can tackle even the blockiest of writer’s blocks.
1. Write what you want to write. Nobody can read your writing if you don’t actually write anything. Instead of focusing on the audience who will eventually read your novel, focus on yourself. Don’t restrain yourself or try to fit your writing into a category or box. Set yourself free and write whatever comes to you! You can always change it later. What kind of book would you want to read? Chances are, if you write something you would want to read, other people will want to also.
2. Movement. Blood circulation is important for creativity! If you’re struggling with writer’s block, try getting up and moving around. Stretch, do some household chores, go on a quick run, or even just get up and walk to make some coffee. Movement will help you get those creative juices flowing.
3. Try something different. Shut down the computer and use old-fashioned pen and paper to write brainstorming maps or outlines. Or, pull out some colored pencils and draw your main character. Pull out your watercolors and paint the setting of your story. Sometimes, completing a creative act that isn’t the one you’re blocked from will help generate ideas and relax you without making you feel like you’re not working on your novel.
4. Use technology. There are apps designed to help you fight writer’s block, like 4thewords or The Most Dangerous Writing App. 4thewords is a video-game style app where you defeat a monster with every word you write, and lose health for time you spend not writing. The Most Dangerous Writing App lets you set a time or word limit. Within those parameters, if you stop typing for five minutes, the app deletes all your work.
5. Set timers. Long, uninterrupted stretches of time to write can actually be harmful, rather than helpful, to productivity if you feel like you aren’t being productive enough. Instead, give yourself short bursts of time to get a particular scene or chapter done. Set a timer for 40 minutes and write for that 40 minutes without any distractions. No phone, TV, or anything else. Scheduling break times between spurts like this will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
6. Use a prompt. More often than not, you just need to make your character do something, anything. Hundreds of free prompts litter the Internet, and any one of them can be a useful way to get both you and your character out of your funk and thinking on a different level.
Just remember, NaNoWriMo asks for 50,000 words. It doesn’t ask for 50,000 great words, or even 50,000 good words, but you can’t edit a blank page.
Don’t let writer’s block stop you from writing your novel. Join NaNoWriMo today, and who knows, maybe one day you’ll see your novel among the proud titles at Bright Sky!
Bright Sky Publishing
Where Texas meets books NaNoWriMo.