Motivational Techniques for NaNoWriMoAt first, the excitement of being in NaNoWriMo should give you a good start (it does me). All those other writers pursuing their creative outlet along with you! Get togethers, write ins, forum chats and messages, twitter sprints.
But as the month wears on, and the thrill wanes, you might need to use a few tricks to improve your focus.
First, check out your standard environment where you do most of your writing to ensure it's comfortable, efficient and not distracting.
Light: What's the light like?
October and gray days have just hit Denver, banishing the sun, especially in the morning when I write. I've started using my lamp with a full spectrum bulb to simulate daylight, as well as putting full spectrum bulbs in my overhead fixture in my office.
But, really, I rarely write with the overhead lights on, so when I turn them off and the desk light on, it's a signal to my brain that I'm moving to creative writing mode.
Make sure you're writing in the right amount of light that suits you, or if in the dark, that you have a backlit keyboard.
TidinessAt the end of deadline, or the middle of NaNo, my desk and office can get littered with research books and notes, scraps of paper showing my wordcount, and a battalion of mugs.
A lot of creative people can work in a mess, but make sure the mess doesn't tip over into chaos that makes you want to avoid your regular writing space.
Note: Also consider the complete opposite to stimulate your brain and fingers. Getting away from it all can be beneficial, like moving to a different area or a coffee house, or library. We have the write-ins during November, but if those don't work for you due to needing music blasting or complete quiet, make sure you keep your regular space welcoming – or find an alternative that will work for you.
Computer!I'm betting that most of us work on a computer (maybe the same computer) for our day job as our writing. Consider changing themes on your computer for your writing versus your day job. For instance, in Windows, the high definition themes can give you a lot of scope in changing the colors of your "paper," menu bars, etc. So does the software program, Scrivener.
Changing from one theme to another also can signal your brain to switch over to writing mode.
I also have a separate, ergonomic, keyboard for writing, as well as a 24" monitor so I can easily compare documents side by side. Much of the time I use an exercise ball as a seat. Find what's good for you and use it.
When purchasing a new laptop, I check out the keyboard to see if I'll be comfortable writing on it. I also spend some hours practicing on it and breaking it in. I do have a backlit keyboard on my main computer.
What else do you do on this computer, or in this space? Pay bills, figure taxes, write your evil aunt Mable? Try not to associate your computer, or your work space, with negative experiences.
So that's your environment. What else can you do?
Second, do you have writing rituals? A little set of actions that, as I've said before, might trigger your brain into thinking, time to stop day job, or messing around, and create!
Some things you can consider:
- Left brain/right brain movement to stimulate the linkage between them, i.e. touch your left toe with your right hand, do some cursive handwriting for a paragraph or two before you sit down to the keyboard, or sketch something.
- Lighting a candle every time to sit down to write (not near any sort of papers)!
- Putting on music, a soundtrack you've made for this particular manuscript.
- Or subliminals (yes, I believe in audio waves and subliminals), I have a full range on my computer that I can use, also a full range on my Apple products – for these you need headphones.
- Consider other sensual prompts – a collage of images pertinent to your story: hero, heroine, historic old house setting, ghost . . .
- Coffee, tea, cocoa at hand. Yes, that first sip can get you going. Watch out for cookie crumbs in the keyboard.
A COUPLE OF EXERCISES TO ELIMINATE SELF-DOUBT AND BOOST THE JOY OF WRITING
First, for self doubt, write down everything you worry about for this particular story – handwritten – for about 5-10 minutes. Then scratch out those words, rip up the pages, shred or toss them. Your worries are gone. (Note, I've had people figure out what went wrong in their story, so they kept their pages).
Next, especially helpful in the middle of the story: WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN ABOUT WHY YOU WANTED TO WRITE THIS PARTICULAR STORY. Why only you can do justice to this story. What you love about this story. Keep this close.
Now go forth and write good stuff!
As you might have realized, I pulled the above from several seminars I've done. If you have questions, please comment.
About the Author
RITA® Award Winning novelist Robin D. Owens credits the telepathic cat with attitude in selling her first futuristic/fantasy romance, HeartMate, published in December 2001. Since then she has written fifteen books in the series, Heart Fire the latest in November 2014, Heart Legacy coming out in November 2015.
Her five book Luna series included average American women Summoned into another dimension to save a world. Her Mystic Circle series was a mixture of contemporary urban and romantic fantasy set in Denver.
And her newest stories, about an uptight accountant who sees Old West ghosts and helps them move on, started with Ghost Seer in April 2014, continued with Ghost Layer and Ghost Killer. She's just finished Ghost Talker.
She is profoundly thankful to be recipient of the 2004 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year award as well as the 2011 Writer of the Year Award, the Colorado Romance Writers Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2010 Best Paranormal and Best of the Best Daphne Du Maurier Award.
A former deputy sheriff, Zach is leaving a painful past behind in Montana for a new life in Denver as a private investigator, a job that has him crossing paths with beautiful Clare. Not that she minds. After the restless ghost of a Wild West gunman demands her assistance, Clare finds herself needing Zach more and more – and not just for help.
Ghost Seer is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.