I did it. Part of me probably knew it was coming, but I still didn’t see it coming. I hit The Wall.
It started as a headache on Friday after an evening out with people from work. So that nixed Friday’s writing. Saturday I still had the headache. And now we’re at Sunday and I’m struggling to reclaim that momentum I built up over the previous week.
I’m currently sitting at 13126 words, and by Day 9 I should be on 14516. 1390 words to go. I’m struggling to make it to 750.
What have I been relying on to maintain any sort of a habit?
1. The Extreme Harry Potter Word Crawls
This is the number one tool in my kit. Any time I’ve really seriously dedicated myself to writing, it’s been with this. You can find it here (requires a log in to NaNoWriMo’s website) and I highly recommend it. It makes things fun, and gives you small, achievable goals. Things like ‘write 250 words’ or ‘write for five minutes’. And it follows everyone’s favourite wizard! There’s even stuff for multiplayer (the ‘word wars’). What’s not to like?
2. 750 Words
We’ve all heard about the morning pages. For those who somehow are writers but haven’t ever googled ‘how to be a writer’, the morning pages are a recommended prescription for a busy brain. You write (by hand, if possible) at least three pages of whatever comes to mind.
This website allows you to write that, and provides some nice analytics tools as well as badges to incentivise maintaining writing streaks. It’s pretty addictive, especially if you’re like me and metrics are your kink. They can tell you how long you spent writing, what you accomplished while you were doing it, tone, POV, and most commonly used words.
My most visually impressive selection of stats.
3. Accountability Buddies
Guilt and embarrassment are probably the biggest motivators in human history, outside of the usual (carnal) suspects. So I decided to load up on those.
I post about it as close to daily as possible on my Twitter and Facebook, to keep me accountable to both my close friends and family as well as the stellar writing community on Twitter. I also exchange emails with a friend who is studying for a license exam and we check in on each other that way. Lastly, I’ve instructed a colleague (and friend!) to bung sweets across the divider between our desks if I’m able to provide proof of progress to her each morning. I’m grateful for the support. (P.S. The aforementioned colleague is a talented artist! You can find her here.)
4. Heavy Pre-Planning
I’ll return once more to the tropes littering every website that touches on the topic of writing: pantsers vs. plotters.
I fall heavily into the realm of plotters. Some people don’t need to do this, and they write beautiful organic stories and everything’s neatly filed away in their brains. I am not one of those people. I take plotting to its cold, functional extreme. I used the worksheets on Annie Neugebauer’s website, which you can find here.
They’ve totally become my crutch, because once I find something I like that produces even mediocre results out of my usual sludge, dammit I’m going to use it until it’s unhealthy.
I go through highs and lows with my mood, and with it my productivity and creativity peaks and troughs as well. If I’m not careful, one day I’m going to end up with a diagnosis. But the important point is that I go through periods where I do a ton of research on boosting productivity and tracking goals and building habits. This leads to a flurry of apps to go with it and notebooks that are painstakingly designed and will most assuredly sit empty (RIP bullet journals).
The latest success story from one of these is Habitica. It’s a basic sort of RPG where you grind by completing tasks and goals IRL. You can set daily tasks, habits, and long term projects/goals, and even break these down into their individual component actions. There are pets, and quests, and equipment for your avatar, so the appeal is fairly obvious for most, as are the addictive elements. I’ll have to check back in with a later post about the long term results of Habitica, but so far, so good. It’s kept me on track with Camp NaNo, as well as the myriad other things I’m attempting.
So that’s what I’m using to try and tackle this behemoth of a project. What have you found useful in keeping the words flowing, come what may?