~ By Lindsay Emory
Congratulations! You decided to write 50,000 words in a month! Wow! That decision alone is a tremendous step forward in your writing career. For that, I give you all my kids’ leftover Halloween candy (which isn’t much after three weeks of Nanowrimo, but, it’s the thought that counts).
But now you’ve hit a wall. Maybe you’re behind your goals. You’re wondering, how the heck do I finish this? Or do I just give up?
I’m here to impart some Ancient Writer Secrets, the tricks and gimmicks and positive affirmations to get you back on track, rounding the bases, and over the goal line.
You’ll note that I already tried this (see, e.g., Halloween candy offer, above). I am a mom, and I’m not ashamed to say that bribery is one of my go-to Ancient Mommy Secrets, along with the The Look and the Just-Wait-Til-Your-Daddy-Comes-Home.
Some people are motivated by rewards and if you are, why not reward yourself for WRITING! I know, we writers don’t do this nearly often enough. Writing is a vocation that’s all about the delayed gratification, for whatever strange, self-immolating reason. During Nano, however, you totally deserve to treat yo’ self. Set daily goals and buy yourself something if you meet them; a song off I-tunes, a caramel macchiato latte, a Big Gulp Margarita (they don’t have those? Why the heck not?). Or save up for that new pair of drop dead sexy boots or a fabulously relaxing massage. Go ahead and make a deal with yourself and you may find the words start flowing like never before. You (and your book) deserve it.
2. Activate the Subconscious
“But Lindsay,” you’re saying, “I can’t write all the time.” No, you can’t. But your brain can. You can be *thinking* about your story all the time, even if you can’t be at the desk. If you direct your subconscious to work on the story when you’re not on the keyboard, it will flow like magic when you are. There are all sorts of ways to do this. I like to make a playlist for each book and I play that music during my commute, while I’m working the day job, while I’m toting kids to soccer and piano lessons. When I hear certain tunes, my subconscious is fired up and I can feel those characters hopping around in the background. Another tool I use is a Pinterest board, as a visual cue to my brain to keep working on the story. Lots of people report plot epiphanies while exercising, so take a walk while listening to your story soundtrack and see where your subconscious can take you.
3. Mix it Up
I’ll be honest here. If you’re not meeting your goals, something isn’t working. You’re doing Nano wrong. Take a good hard look at your schedule and your writing time. Are you trying to fit in words at lunch but your boss keeps calling? Are you trying to write at night but you’re falling asleep? Whatever you’re doing – DON’T DO IT THAT WAY ANYMORE. Change up your routine and you should find a better way to be productive.
4. Start Over
Yes, literally. Start something new. Maybe you’re at a plot point and you have no idea whether your heroine chooses the glamour and independence of a life as an anthropologist/ supermodel or settles down with her former fiance/ werewolf/ firefighter on his ranch in Montana (Don’t steal this plot – it’s from my hypothetical future novel The Rancher’s Secret Shifter Baby) Maybe while you were writing your Love Boat fanfiction (starring Isaac and the Captain – don’t judge), you got a great idea for ANOTHER Love Boat fanfiction (featuring Isaac and Gopher – I know, Isaac is such an irredeemable rake.)
So write it! Write something ELSE! The Nanowrimo police won’t arrest you if you start two novels in a month. Or three or twenty-seven. You have to write 50,000 words and it doesn’t matter where they come from. You’ll figure out where it all fits in January. Switch to something new and your creative juices soon will be overfilling your Nano cup.
5. BELIEVE YOU CAN.
Here’s the ultimate secret about writing anything, even 50,000 words in a month. You’ve already done it. The story is in your brain. The characters live inside your noggin. All you have to do is let it out. See what happens. Turn off the annoying voice in your head that says it has to be perfect, or it’s too hard, or you’re not sure that Captain Stubing and Isaac could really have a happily ever after. Your one-of-a-kind imagination has created something amazing, all you have to do is let it out of the box.
As a Texan and recovering sorority girl, Lindsay Emory has strong opinions on college football, nachos, and wearing white after Labor Day. When she’s not writing, she’s raising two daughters, watching Sons of Anarchy with her husband and reading as many books as possible. Follow her on Twitter (@Lindsay_Emory) for more semi-helpful writing tips and thoughts on various caffeine delivery systems.