Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNoWriMojo Ten

Ten Things to Help Restore Your NaNoWriMojo

Change Locations: Moving your writing to another space may eliminate whatever is distracting you. Think of an alternative place that is different from where you're writing now (i.e., if you're hanging out in a busy coffeeshop and getting nothing written, try the quiet room at your local library. Or if your quiet spot at home isn't working, try a busy coffeeshop.) If weather permits, find an outdoor space (the backyard, a park, a lake, the beach, etc.) where you can commune a little with nature while you write.

Clean Something: Vacuuming a room, doing a load of laundry or even tidying up your writing space restores order to some part of your immediate environment and, unless you like being a slob, makes you feel better about it. That good feeling can carry over into the work once you start writing again.

Emergency Reward: Often that carrot you've hung over the finish line seems too far away, so set up one that's a bit closer. Promise yourself a small reward for just making your writing goal today. Make it something good, too; the more you want it, the more you're likely to work for it.

Exercise: Another good way to vent some frustration is to get moving: take a walk, go to the gym, jog around the block, put on that workout DVD and follow along for twenty minutes, etc. Your goal is to work up a sweat, then take a warm shower and get back to the writing (hopefully in a more relaxed, refreshed state.)

Make Something Minty: Mint is naturally soothing, so drinking a cup of mint-flavored tea, chewing a stick of mint gum or otherwise indulging in a mint treat may bump you from crabby to calm.

Muse with Music: Play your favorite CD while you sit and relax for ten minutes. Don't think about anything; just listen. If you have a soundtrack made up for your story, that's a good choice -- or just listen to the sort of music that puts you in a positive mood. If you can write with the music playing, take it back with you and listen while you work.

Project Switch: This is one of my personal mojo restorers; I stop work on one project and write on another for a short period of time. I always switch to something I enjoy writing but I'm not especially invested in so it doesn't steal me away from my NaNo novel.

Scene Skip: At least once a week without fail I hit a scene that for whatever reason I can't write. If this happens to you, instead of letting it become a brick wall between you and the rest of your story, skip it and go work on the next scene. Mark the place in your manuscript with a notation [I use square brackets and a one-line description of the scene like this] so you can easily go back and write it later.

Switch Creative Gears: This past weekend I had a particularly dreary writing day during which I fought to get every word on the page. I took regular ten minutes breaks and used them to work on a small quilting project. Switching gears like that gave me little creative/spiritual boosts, which kept me from giving up.

Write Past It: This last idea is tough, but if writing stories was easy everyone could do it. You just keep writing. Doesn't matter how well you write, or if anything you do write will be salvageable. You're not going to think about how you're writing because you're going to be too busy writing. Keep working and moving forward with the story until your mojo returns (and yes, if you push on it generally does. If it doesn't, you can always edit brilliantly.)


  1. Thanks for this list. I definitely need a kick in the NaNoWiMojo this week.

    You don't seem to suffer from this much, but do you have any suggestions for when you've fallen behind? Like, waaay behind?

    1. I do get behind (like today; as of this moment I'm 3500 words behind on my own schedule) but I don't let it make me feel depressed or inferior or anything negative. I've had a rough couple days, and even if I hadn't, beating myself up over what I might have accomplished won't change it. Those two days are gone, sure, but I have tonight plus seventeen more days to write. Why waste another minute worrying about what I might have written or where I should be when I could be writing?
      When you begin your next session, try setting aside your goals for one day and just write. Immerse yourself in your story and give yourself permission to create more of it. Don't check your wordcount while you're writing; don't put any pressure on yourself to perform. Writing is your time to practice your art, and you and the words are all that matter right now. As the song goes, leave out all the rest.
      I can't guarantee you'll catch up, but if you do this, you'll be in a good place with the work (versus the awful I'm-so-far-behind pit of despair), you'll feel better about yourself, and you'll be moving forward with your story. When you sustain that kind of momentum, and push past the doubts and the pits, you will finish writing your story. Finishing it will give you more confidence to start the next. Then repeat the process until it becomes your process.

  2. I'm waaaaay behind too, fiona, but I still hold to what I said the other day. One word or 100, as long as I'm writing every day, I'm winning.

    And I love this list! Except for the mint. I don't do mint. :( But I kept writing yesterday and managed 1000 words, so I'm happy.

    1. Exactly -- and you said it so much better than I did. :)

  3. I like this list. I've noticed sometimes you don't have to change rooms, just where you are in the room. I have a lap desk I use to sit on my bed and work on, giving me another workspace.

    Time of day makes a difference too. The same room can offer a better (or worse) working environment in the morning than it does at night and the other way around.


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