Getting going – what’s best for you?
We love writing, don’t we? We are writers. But sometimes, getting started can be just a little difficult! We’re not in the mood; we’ve so many other things to do; we haven’t got anywhere quiet to write; we’re not feeling great.
A quick anecdote here: I was in the sauna at my local leisure club the other day. One man was telling everyone else how he cycles 100 km a week, sometimes even getting up at 3am to complete his daily routine. Another man was nodding along with the story and, when gentleman A paused for breath, he said, “Trouble is, I LIKE procrastinating.”!
I know, occasionally, I’m like that sauna man. I convince myself that I’ll write later on in the day, or maybe tomorrow will be better because then I can spend more time on it, or I need to do some research first, or …… PROCRASTINATING!
So, I’ve come up with a few ways to get us out of that habit. Try one or more and do let me know if they work.
- If you are writing an ongoing piece, finish one day’s writing session in the middle of a sentence. When you resume, you’ll probably already know how you were going to finish that sentence, and then you’re away.
- Finish one day’s writing session by jotting down just a few words, or phrases, as to what you want to include the following day. It shouldn’t then take you long to get back your train of thought.
- Re-read what you wrote the previous day. The best way to do this is to read it OUT LOUD. Then it’s up to you whether you edit that writing, or just carry on.
- If you don’t feel ready to carry on with a particular piece of writing, try a prompt or an exercise. Go the the Articles page to see my article on Prompts and Exercises – what’s the difference?
- If none of the above work, then try something non-writing: a bath nearly always helps me, or a walk, a swim, housework (not my favourite), shopping, chatting, a quick nap, a hobby. The break could well clear your mind and your writing muse will return.
It’s that time of the year when almost half a million writers and would-be writers all over the world are preparing for NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that you sign up (quite literally, through the Internet) to write 50,000 words in November. It’s a big challenge – that’s 1667 words a day. Sounds easy?
I’ve done it once. The first week was great: I found it most enjoyable to sit and write 1600-1700 words each day, giving me a real feeling of satisfaction. Then, somehow, life crept in, and I got a bit behind. Before I knew it, it was the last week and I was having to write over 3,000 words a day to finish. I did it and I received my badge that sits on the noticeboard above my computer, reminding me that IT IS POSSIBLE!
NaNoWriMo was started back in 1999 with 21 writers in San Francisco; last year, 450,000 writers stared out on November 1st, with just 11% reaching their goal. There’s now an official NaNoWriMo site which runs the challenge. It’s completely free to sign up and participate. On the website, you’ll find advice, tips, stories, and group writing events in your region. NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organisation, which is supported by selling merchandise and accepting donations.
Could you be one of the winning percentage? NaNoWriMo is not a competition, just a personal challenge. Once you have completed the word count by November 30th, you send off your novel (or part-novel) to have it verified. (No-one reads your work and once it’s verified, it is deleted) Then, you’ll be awarded certificates, banners and badges.
Too much for you? It doesn’t have to be 50,000 words in a month. You can choose your own goal. For example:
250 words a day will give you a total of 7,500 words – one or two short stories;
500 words a day adds up to 15,000 – the start of a novel;
750 words a day gives you 22,500 – maybe a short story collection;
And 1000 words a day means you’ll have written 30,000 words – half a novella.
Is it time you started a novel or, at the very least, a regular writing routine?