NaNo Series: Staying Motivated

You decided to undertake the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. That's great - fantastic, even - but you get five days in, all motivation is gone and you're left with a story that's started but unlikely to be finished. How do you avoid this situation that many Mibbians find themselves in? It's difficult but these tips might help with your motivation problems.

Don't Force It

This is a big one. When you're attempting something as heavy as NaNoWriMo you absolutely have to enjoy what you're writing. There is no point beginning in November with an idea that you're not keen on because more than likely it will end up running out of steam after a few days and no one wants that. But even when you do like an idea to begin with, there will come a time during the month when you start disliking it and having trouble dealing with any aspect of the idea. The difference between the two situations is that the latter can be solved through several different methods - stop working on the idea for a few days so that you're able to give your mind a rest, work on something else, or even do something that you know boosts your motivation. All of these methods ensure that you don't try and force yourself to continue with your idea just for the sake of keeping up with the word count. Remember, NaNo isn't just about winning it's about the ability to write a novel and be proud of that fact.

Don't Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Even if you start the month with an idea that you love, it can sometimes end up dying out after a few days and you no longer feel motivated to write it. A lot of people give up because of all the planning they may have put into that idea, but don't fall into that trap! It needs to be stressed that changing ideas two, three or even ten days into November can be incredibly beneficial to your motivation, especially if you were initially between two ideas during October. However, don't mistake a temporary loss of motivation for complete lack of interest in the idea because it is inevitable that during the month you will lose the drive to continue with the idea, even if you're only 2,000 words away from winning. If you feel that loss of motivation, take a break and only if it doesn't return then should you think about changing ideas.

Take Breaks

Even though the daily word count is 1,667, many people still struggle with keeping up. This is why some writers feel like they shouldn't take any breaks - but this could make that struggle even worse! Taking a break, allowing yourself to detach from your story and focusing on something else is actually really rewarding. Going for a bike ride, watching a film with your mates or even baking a cake that you plan to eat yourself allows you to return to your idea with a fresh mind and you could reap the benefits of being struck with a surge of motivation because you were doing something other than being sat in front of your computer screen and staring at the blinking cursor.

It's Okay to Change Things Around

A lot of people write in a linear fashion - starting with the beginning, moving onto the middle and then finishing nicely with the ending. Sometimes writing in that way, especially during NaNo, can suck away all your motivation because of having to link all the scenes together straight away and possibly starting with the boring scenes. If you're writing a crime novel and you're excited to write about the killer's unmasking but know it'll be one of the last scenes of the story, don't be afraid to skip to that scene and write it even if you haven't finished the beginning. It's your story and there's no law saying that you have to write in the order everything happens, plus many people find that it's easier to get to grip with their idea and characters if they write the key scenes of the story before they focus on everything that happens before and after those scenes. You might end up discovering that writing in that manner could change the way you write for the better.

Spend Time With Your Characters

This might not be for everyone but one way of regaining motivation in an idea is by getting to know the characters you're writing about. This can be through character interviews or even by writing short pieces about their life before the events in the story. You may have thought you knew your characters inside out before which is why they no longer were interesting to write, hence the lack of motivation, but interviews can reveal opinions that you never realised the character had and a short drabble could shed some light onto a character's past that you were struggling to detail.

NaNoWriMo is infamous for sucking away motivation and inspiration for many writers that participate. These tips are designed to help but not everyone gains their motivation back in the same way. Either way, November is a month of achievement, even if you don't make it passed 10K. At least you attempted it, something which in itself is worthy of noting.

Special thanks to silent hearts. and nearly witches for editing.

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