Whether you like music or not, I’d highly suggest crafting a killer writing playlist. Seriously. Writing will help set a mood, give you the motivation to keep going and tap into the emotion of the story. If you have to write to silence and can’t stand writing to music, then there’s no time better than now to break the habit and hop on the music train. Writing in total silence can lead to writer’s block way too quickly. Music, on the other hand, will help drown out the noise.
I use Spotify to craft my playlists. It has an endless supply of music so I know I’ll never run out and it has soundtracks. Every writer has their own taste of writing music. Just like when runners listen to music. Whether its pop, rock, country, classical, or soundtracks, you need to find what works best for you.
I might recommend, however, to use music that fits your genre and your story. It’ll feel weird if you’re writing an epic fantasy with Taylor Swift in the background.
Once you got that killer playlist, be sure to share it with the world with #NaNoWriMoPlaylist. Let me know about it, too!
For many new writers to NaNoWriMo it’ll be tempting to hop in on Day 1 without a plan. I’m sure even some veterans still start without a road. This is a mistake.
Imagine hopping in your car to go on a road trip from New York to Los Angeles but you haven’t looked at the map and have no idea how to get there. It would be a disaster and take you much longer to reach your goal.
It’s kind of the same way with writing a novel during NaNoWriMo.
Some writers worry creating an outline will bog them down in notes, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Creating a simple outline requires you to know your beginning, middle, and end which helps shape your story. Within those three sections, you put in basic scenes with simple descriptions. Don’t overdo the descriptions. Just give yourself enough to work with, like reminder notes. It’s a lifesaver when you get stuck.
Don’t forget to pace your novel carefully, creating a rhythmic pattern of positives and negatives for your main character along the way.
A simple outline shouldn’t take you longer than an hour to two hours. If it is taking you longer, then you might want to put it down, mull it over, and come back.
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While I’m writing my first draft, I occasionally make notes for my future edits. Notes to a future self if you will. Usually, they aren’t very detailed. Rather, quick thoughts and feelings about a paragraph, a piece of information, or something I might need to double check.
Then, there are the notes that read Mind Vomit.
Anytime I put “Mind Vomit” in a note, it essentially tells my future self that a piece of writing is so awful, it’ll likely need to be entirely re-written. Read it again, future self, and decide if you want to remove it or not.
Why do I do this?
Before I get started writing a story or novel, I always have those parts which excite me. You know what I’m talking about. The inspirational part driving the whole thing in the first place. The Spark. The Beautiful Mistress. Maybe it’s a character arc or a climactic scene that changes everything. Maybe it’s a big, surprising reveal in the story. Somewhere along the way you come up with an idea and say, “That’s it! Wouldn’t it be so cool to write that scene?”
Well, you’re 50,000 words into the story and you finally reach the penultimate moment. It’s all come together for this one part. It’s your time to shine. Your time to make it a magical piece of writing.
But, suddenly, you buckle and collapse under the pressure. Writer’s block takes hold. The one part you were waiting to write, your beautiful mistress has metamorphosed into a gargantuan eight-tentacled slug beast with gallons of slime falling off of its gelatinous flesh.
Recently, I’ve been wondering why I haven’t been more creative. For a long time, I’ve been able to churn out tons of ideas for stories. I’d put them in my notes and log them away for later. Those ideas have slowly faded. Nothing would come so easily. Maybe I’m just in a dry spell, I thought. You can’t always have inspiration 24/7. It’ll come. Just be patient.
It never came back.
In fact, it started creeping into my writing life as well. I haven’t had writer’s block in a long time, probably not since college. My writer’s block lasted over a month. For me, that’s not acceptable.
So, what was wrong?