NaNoWriMo Practice

Tricking Yourself Out of Quitting

It’s ironic; I’ve been working on the whole “Maker Time” schedule, and on days like this (“Blogday”) the plan is to write all three of my week’s posts in one day.

The problem I was having was that I found myself writing the day’s post – the “Practice” post – and then getting drawn away into other things that were necessary. Well, ok, they were urgent, not necessary, and therefore my other posts were also done last-minute.

The answer, stumbled upon by accident, was simple: write my posts in reverse order to when they are due. So I wrote Friday’s post (“5 Ways to Love a NaNoWriMo Writer”) first, followed by Wednesday Life post (“5 Hard Questions for 2000 Easy Words”) over the past couple of hours. Incidentally, if I was doing NaNoWriMo, the total for those posts plus this one so far would be a good word count for the day.

But it’s also late in the day, and I’m tired, and opening up this blank blog entry was hard. In fact, I likely would have put it off (for the oh-so-reasonable excuse that I’m past my scheduled workout time) if it weren’t for the fact that I came up with the title last week.

Turns out it’s hard to say “I quit!” when you’re supposed to be writing a blog post about how to not quit.

Grit, True or False

So that’s one way: guilt yourself into keeping on going. I don’t really recommend it, as guilt is a really ineffective (as well as unhealthy and unethical) method of manipulating anyone, including yourself.

But there are other ways to kind of trick yourself into writing more, and keeping on going.

  • The Prompt: This is the healthier part of what I did to myself last week: I wrote the title of this post, as well as a single idea, in the blank space. When I got here, I didn’t have to do the work of wondering what I was going to write about – I just had to finish what was already started.
  • I Quit! …after this. Give yourself total and complete permission to quit, to get up and walk away and never write again…after you do this one more page/chapter/word goal. That’s right, this is the last bit of NaNoWriMo you’re ever going to do, and like any short-timer you suddenly have much more energy and a “Who gives a frak?” attitude that just makes the words fly. That kind of unrestrained creativity, by the way, is exactly what this month is supposed to be about. You may find, tomorrow, that you want to feel it again…
  • Dog on a Leash: I suggested this to my Middle Daughter the other day. She had opened the document and was about to start writing, and I asked her to stop and just stare at the page for a minute or so. Not letting her hands touch the keys, just look at those words. She reported “It helped me feel like I was picking up from where I left off, but with more energy because it was a day later.” We like telling stories; if you deliberately hold yourself back, when you cry havoc and loose the dogs of creativity they will take off like a bat outta clichés.
  • Stumbling Into Habits: This is kind of how I manage to do my morning rituals: I lay out my tools in places where I can’t help but find them. Maybe this means putting a blank notebook (open) and a pen next to your breakfast plate. Perhaps it means leaving your manuscript open on your computer so that it’s the first thing you see. Maybe it means subscribing to a podcast about NaNoWriMo so that your phone automatically feeds you support. Figure out how to put success in your way, and you may just fall into the next thousand words…

Got any more tricks you use to keep going for NaNoWriMo (or any other habit?). I’d love to hear about them in the comments. If someone you know could use a few tricks to keep going, be sure to re-post or forward this to them, with our compliments. Word count, hurrah!

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