Monday, November 17, 2014

you're halfway through #NaNoWriMo, now what?

Well, you aren't the only one half way through #NaNoWriMo, I am too. And that means that we've experienced the high that we're doing this, making it happen, and we're going to make it to 50,000 words by the last day of this month. Or so we hope. We've also experienced the WHY DID I EVER DECIDE TO DO THIS? mess of doubt that's like a plate of spaghetti all twisted around each other and impossible to sort out.

But now that we're half way and we're fighting fatigue. We're feeling sort of bored with how hard our word counts can be to reach and trying not to turn into complete hermits and haters of the world because of this fact.

I contend: I have some solutions for you. And for me, actually.

Who better to encourage you, provide you with sage advice about process, point out their greatest mistakes than the authors that so many people love to read? No one. That's the answer: no one.

I can attest to the greatness of two of the following books. The other I'm preparing to work through in the second half of this month.

Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
On Writing - Steven King
Zen in the Art of Writing - Ray Bradbury 

Literally first thing. Before you look at social media, before you drink coffee (or maybe while you drink coffee), while you're still in pajamas. This is when your mind is freshest in the course of your day, it's when your mind isn't yet wrestling with To Do lists or meetings, appointments or pressing bills. Just write. 

Write with your hands. Be it in a notebook, on a napkin, in your planner simply write with a pen on paper. This feels old school and sort of ridiculous, but it makes you intimate with the words, often drawing words out of you that you didn't expect or may not have realized were in there to be shared. 

I've done this once (see above picture) and have a second print out in my schedule this month. Basically the thought is this: you need to understand the physical composition of your novel. Print your novel, tape chapters (as you intend them to be for now) together, then line them up in relation to one another. Keep scissors handy and look through your general ideas and tales within your plot. Cut. Rearrange. Tape. Then take sticky notes and note what you need to fill in the holes -then fill them. 

Sometimes looking at images and quotes that inspire your novel is helpful. I know -but then I have to make the board- do that instead of stalking your ex-boyfriend on Facebook and LOOK THERE, you've got yourself a mood board for you next murder scene, or hot date, or hopeful tale. 

I know, I already talked about Serial, but Podcasts (and TedTalks) are awesome sources of inspiration. Maybe you're storyline has crime in it or deals with women's rights or is attempting to inspire readers to understand the sources of their hope. Either way, see what other smart/thoughtful/interesting people think on your thing -whatever your thing might be.

Other Inspiring Podcasts
This American Life (they make Serial too)
The Joe Rogan Experience (he interviews some awesomely intelligent people & is intelligent himself)
Stuff You Should Know (I mean, self explanatory. But TONS of interesting content)

YouTube Videos I Watch When I NEED Inspiration
"Royals" Cover by Alex Boye
Why We Tell Stories - Phil Kaye TedTalk
Kevin Durant MVP Speech
Learning from Dirty Jobs - Mike Rowe TedTalk

I think the champagne is supposed to wait until the end... But treat yourself to something you love to drink. It'll keep you awake, isn't going to get your hands dirty like eating might do, and, well, you're working hard so why not?

I've found amazing inspiration in two places lately: the sprints of #madwritersunite and the boldness of #fireworkpeople. Writing within community makes this individual process feel less lonely and exhausting. So, find friends, link-up with people, search through the #NaNoWriMo hashtag. Whatever you do, don't be shy and hermit-like. 

And with that, get back after that word count baby! 


  1. Those are great tips! I can't imagine writing that much every day! I do find that reading very well written books or books about writing are very inspiring and helpful. I still remember the first book that made me love writing and appreciate good writing. I just gave it to my husband to read!

  2. Wait, am I still allowed to participate in the aforementioned activities if I'm NOT writing a book? Please? PLEASE. Because champagne & Serial = the perfect night. (Also, I listen to old episodes of this American Life every single day. No lie. You are my soulmate.)

  3. I love that you're writing so much, can't wait to read it!!!!!

  4. GREAT advice. Your book is going to be incredible, I can't wait to read it!

  5. Your book recommendations are SO good. Bird by Bird is one of my all time favorites.

  6. HALFWAY! So crazy, but so, so happy. How are you feeling about your progress so far?

  7. I'm kicking myself in the pants at this point for not jumping into #NaNoWriMo--I guess I can do my own version in the months to come, but this whole community it's created is beautiful and encouraging. I love these tips and am anxiously but patiently waiting to read this never cease to amaze me with the words and thoughts and ideas that come out of your beautiful heart! Keep writing, sister. Press onward, the world needs your voice to be heard!

  8. I honestly can't believe that I'm writing as many words a day as I am... But then it's okay because I also feel like I'm starting to lose my mind a bit! :)

    Anne Lamott. Donald Miller. Sarah Bessey. Rachel Held Evans. Those were the people who made me realize that our stories are more than just little tales of our own, but actually beautiful narratives that'll open doors and ideas for others! :)

  9. You can only participate them in California or Texas under my supervision.

    ALSO, we MUST talk about Serial stat.

  10. I love doing it... Well, except for tonight when I'm skipping writing to answer blog comments because I just can't do it anymore today! :)

  11. You're incredible.

    Oh wait, we weren't coming here to flirt with each other?

  12. So you've caught up?!?!

    Girl, this is hard work. Like, so hard, but I'm also so thankful for it. You too?

  13. Girl, I didn't mean to. It just happened all of a sudden. But YES write. PLEASE. Maybe for January to kick 2015 off really creative and right? I'd say December but there's SO MANY things in December it's not fair to you! :)

  14. SO CRAZY. Honestly, I feel like I'm losing my mind! Some days I adore the thoughts and pieces that are coming together, other days I feel like this is just a terrible mess that I've tricked myself into thinking that I might possibly be able to pull things together enough to touch someone's life. I try and focus on the earlier feelings MUCH more than the latter, but that's tricky.

  15. Bird by Bird honestly changed the way I think about writing and reading and all those words I"m consuming each day. Like there's someone's heart and soul in there and WHOA.

  16. I can only imagine. I have a hard time staying organized even when I'm just writing a paper, so I can't even think about trying to keep 50,000+ words organized and coherent enough to understand. I already know that this book is going to be great! I can't wait until it's a finished product. YOU GOT THIS.


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