October 29, 2019

nanowrimo tip: inspiration

Blogger's Note: This year marks my 10th consecutive year participating in National Novel Writing Month. So far, I am 9/9 of reaching the 50,000 words mark in 30 days. As I go into this year, I'm reflecting on what has and hasn't worked and passing it along. Please remember, this is my experience and what works for me. Please feel free to take or leave any advice as you like!

Greetings fellow WriMos or prospective WriMos! We're just days away from the fierce frenzy of a writing whirlwind. So far in this series, we've already covered several of the ways you can prepare for NaNoWriMo. I've shared some of the ways I develop characters and stories. We've talked about the logistics, the ways to prepare yourself as a writer, and even some of the ways you can get your life in order before the big day.

Today, I want to share some insight on how to keep pushing forward when things get rough. Because they will get rough. Unless, of course, you're someone who never experiences self doubt and can sit down to write and let the words flow through you with no problems. If you are this person, I'm super thrilled for you. Seriously. There's no way to type that without sounding sarcastic, but I'm totally sincere when I say I admire you and aspire to one day be you. But for the rest of us, trying to write a book is going to be something akin to ripping out your heart and trying to put it back in the right place after tossing it around. (Sorry, that's a really gross visual, but I've had a beer and watched a bunch of Halloween movies, so here we are. I promise to be less gross going forward.) 

When you're in the thick of writing your NaNoWriMo, it's going to happen. You might have fallen behind on the word count goals. Maybe you're going to hate your story. Or writing. You might even just feel like you plain old suck at writing and have no business anywhere around a keyboard or pen. You're really going to want somewhere to turn when that happens.

That's where it pays to have a network of inspiration and support to turn to in those dark moments. Here are a few of the ways I look for a little (or a lot of) pep in those dark moments.

Follow inspiring writers on social media

Who are the authors that inspire you? Maybe it's someone who has written a story that gripped your heart and made you stay up half the night wondering what was going to happen next. They could be someone who exudes positivity or humor and makes you feel better every time you see their post in your feed. Maybe you just love their cat or dog and look forward to photos of them as much as anything else.

Whoever the author, and whatever they do that speaks to you, make sure you're following them on social media channels. While it might seem counterintuitive to spend time on social media during NaNoWriMo, chances are you'll find yourself there at some point. You might as well fill your feed with the positivity and inspiration you need to push yourself to keep going. Because your story matters, friend. And someday, someone is going to love it.

I'll also take this opportunity to step up on my soapbox for a moment and encourage you to unfollow or hide people who bring you down. You don't have to explain why, but if you find yourself feeling less than or defeated after you see one of their posts, you don't want that kind of negativity when you're already beating yourself up. (At the same time, don't read blog posts or articles about about why writers today/the publishing industry/sales/etc suck and everything else sucks and no one has hope. I'm sure they're well-intended, but ouch.)

Build a writing community

Maybe you already belong to a couple of online writing groups or something local. That's great. Make sure to stay connected to these people throughout the month.

But if you're new to this and still building your crew, now is a great time. Follow the #NaNoWriMo hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Attend a local write-in. Look for people who are on this journey at the same time. You'll find people at all levels of experience. First-timers. Repeat participants. Established authors. People writing their debut novel. And everything in between. There's a lot to learn from people wherever they are in their writing journey.

You can also look for guilds and organizations that represent your genre or meet locally. I joined Romance Writers of America a few years back, and I've made good friends here in Nebraska as well as around the world who have my back when I need them.

And you can always come to me. Add me on Facebook, Instagram, and the NaNoWriMo website with username/handle LauraChapmanBooks. You can also hit me up on Twitter @lchapmanbooks. I may not always be able to respond immediately, but I'll do my best to respond ASAP.

Re-read a favorite book

Earlier this year I was struggling to finish a novel and a novella. So I picked up a book that I'd read years ago and loved. As I fan-girled over the story for a second time, I also found my excitement for writing rising again. While my stories were nothing like the one I was reading (which was probably a good thing) I was reminded of why I love books. And that made me want to write.

I finished both stories within the same week, and they're both now out there for the world to read. (Cough, cough, shameless plug for Let It Be Me and "Go for Love" in the Love in Charge collection.)

Curious to see if lightning would strike twice, I picked up another favorite read while having a tough time crossing the finish line with another book. Worked like a charm. I binge-read the book and suddenly found myself inspired to get this story done.

So, I'm going to grab another favorite read and start it these last few days of October. And I'll have a couple other on standby to pick-up throughout November during those moments when I need to remember why I do this.

It's worth a shot, right?

Tell the world

By now, if you've signed up for a profile on the NaNoWriMo website, you've received emails encouraging you to change your profile picture, make a social media post, etc. to let people know that you're participating this November. I'm here to echo that: do it. There's something super empowering about telling the world that you're going for a goal.

Better still, let people close to you know how much it means to you to write those 50,000 words this month. Get them excited about it too. When they are, you'll find you have people willing to be your cheering section or step in to give support when you need help in the real world to give you more time to spend in your imaginary one.

Be Fearless

No matter what happens, be proud that you even started NaNoWriMo. It's a brave, wonderful thing to decide you're going to write a story. Celebrate that. Go for it. What's the worst that can happen?

***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Join my Facebook Reader Group for in-depth discussion on everything from books to our favorite binge-watches. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***

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