Friday, November 1, 2013

10 Ways to Defeat Writer's Block During NaNoWriMo

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photo credit: net_efekt via photopin cc
It's November. You're sitting in your favorite writing chair with a hot cup of coffee next to you and you open your laptop, preparing to meet your daily word count for NaNoWriMo. However, there's just one problem: when you place your hands on the keyboard, nothing happens. You've hit a road writer's block. Realizing that this has happened, you get up from your laptop and decide to take a day off, hoping that the block will be gone by tomorrow.

If you've ever experienced writer's block, you might be guilty of allowing it to hold you back. I know I am. However, it is time that we stop letting writer's block keep us from meeting our daily word count, especially when we're on a deadline or participating in NaNoWriMo. So what are some ways to defeat this writer's block rather than letting it defeat us?
  1. Remind yourself that your first draft does not have to be perfect. Perfectionism is one of the most common forms of writer’s block, and it is also the most threatening. When I begin to write, I always think about a lump of clay. It has to go through a molding and shaping process before it can be turned into a beautiful piece of pottery. The first draft is your molding and shaping process. It is during the edits and rewrites when you can begin to turn your lumps of clay into something beautiful—however, if you don’t have anything to mold, then you won’t have anything to work with. How are you supposed to clean if you haven't even created a mess to clean?
  2. Don’t have the intention to make your story a best-seller. Instead, pray that you will be lead by the Spirit to create the story that He has placed on your heart. Ask God to lead you throughout the process of writing your first draft, and try to brainstorm ways in which your story will minister to others.
  3. Create a private (or public) board on Pinterest. I’ve done this with every book I've written, and I have found it extremely helpful. Not only is it nice to have a collection of pictures so you can visualize the story as you write, but it is also a great cure for writer's block. I've even had new sub-plots, characters, and even setting ideas spark just because of one simple picture.
  4. Create a playlist of songs that can relate to your story. I have found many songs that seem to be written just for my stories. When you come across these songs, write them down. Listen to them when you feel stuck, or turn on the playlist as you write. I personally like to create a new station on my Pandora app for every book that I write. For example, when I wrote my second book, I created a country music station on Pandora. And every time I had an urge to listen to country music, I wouldn't allow myself to listen to it until I was writing.
  5. Stay inspired and passionate about your story. Stay inspired by reading writing quotes, blog posts that push you to keep writing, and books on the writing craft. Stay passionate about your story by asking yourself why you wrote it, what you hope your readers will take away, how you can relate to your protagonist, your favorite elements of the story, etc. I like to write down the answers to those questions, just in case I ever stumble upon a writing block and need a few doses of inspiration/passion. I have collected a other ways you can stay inspired and passionate, which you can find here
  6. Have the ending of your story in mind, even if you’re panster. How do you want the reader to feel when they close your book? I’ve found that having the ending of my story in mind takes off a lot of pressure when I begin to write. Writer's block is often caused when you just have no idea what to write next. However, you can prevent this by having the ending in mind, as well as having at least a "vague outline" of what is going to happen in your story.
  7. Take necessary breaks, set realistic daily goals, and reward yourself when they are met. One cause of writer's block is simply exhaustion. It’s okay to take a short break every once and a while. In fact, it’s healthy for your writing. Walk around the neighborhood, work out, eat chocolate (contradictory, I know), watch television, etc. I’ve found that rewarding myself helps as well. For example, I tell myself that I can read a chapter in the book I'm reading once I have written a certain amount of words. Doing this simply motivates me to continue writing.
  8. Write at a specific time every day. Maybe you’re someone who writes best in the mornings, or maybe you’re less distracted at night, when everyone else has gone to bed. Whatever the case, I have found that setting certain hours for myself every day and treating my writing as a job forces me to keep writing, even if I do come across a writer’s block.
  9. Make your NaNoWriMo-ing fun (yes, that is a word). You can do this by finding a comfortable/inspiring place to write at—such as a comfortable leather chair, your dining room table that overlooks a pond outside, or maybe even at a coffee shop. If you like to listen to music as you write, turn on your writing playlist. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. Burn candles. Anything that will cause you to look forward to this time every day rather than being tempted to procrastinate. I wrote a post a few years ago on how to create a space specifically for your writing.
  10. And finally, don’t stop, even if you come across a writer’s block. When this happens, refuse to give into the temptation to quit. Instead, find a way to tear the block down. Once you continue writing, you will find that the block you had been fretting about so much had somehow disappeared! They are never truly as big as we think they are. So keep writing, because your creative juices will flow more freely the faster that you write. 
Since writers tend to create the writer's block themselves, defeating it ultimately begins in the head. Continue stirring your passion for writing so you will not have a reason to allow a writer's block to keep you from writing. Passion for our stories should always create a motivation to tell it. Remember that the quicker you write, the quicker someone will have the opportunity to read your amazing work of art. So write, and refuse to let the scary, intimidating writing block monsters scare you away. Remember: The monsters are only in your head. You have more power over them than you think.
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How do you defeat the writing block monster? Have you tried any of the ways that I mentioned? If so, which one helped the most?

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  1. Great tips! Thanks for sharing:-)

  2. Thanks for this list, Tessa! I'll definitely be looking back on this in the future (hopefully it isn't in the near future, though...).

    I think the thing that's keeping me going is the rewards I have for myself at the moment. I'm not usually one to buy junk food, but this NaNo I found some things on sale that I really like to eat, and they're a great motivation to keep going.

    Remembering last year, I can really agree with number six. Last year I had only a very, very vague idea what my story would be about, and had no idea what the ending would be like. This time, I took more time (well, I actually had more time) to prepare, and although I didn't get as much done as I would have liked to do I still am a lot more prepared this time than I was last time. I still don't know exactly what my ending will be, but I know for the most part what the last part of the book will be about, so I'm content with that. I've got something to work for. :)

    Thanks again for the post, it was very encouraging!


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