The one thing I’ve learned from each and every one of my attempts at National Novel Writing Month is that Murphey’s Law really is in effect. Anything that can go wrong, will. I kicked off NaNo a little early due to spending the first of November in NYC and was pleased with how well my writing went and even went over my daily word count by 2oo words. Great start, right? Wrong. I came back from the city sick as a dog and didn’t write which meant there were nearly five days in between my writing. My second day of writing (a few days later) went well and I played catch up for the day I had missed due to being sick and just missed my word count goal for completing two days in one. And then I hit a wall. It’s not that I don’t have time to write. I could easily devote an hour or two to writing every day my story just doesn’t seem to be playing nice. So what’s a writer to do?
You can scour the interwebs forever and find hundreds of different resources for what to do when you hit a wall in your writing. However, I’ve found that these tips are not always the most helpful. Writers are really interesting when they give advice in that they are either really good at it or really bad at it. (I’m hoping to be in the latter category). Here’s my advice on what to do when you just can’t write anything (and it’s only the first week of NaNoWriMo).
Take a Break
If you’ve been staring at the computer screen for hours and still haven’t typed anything, do yourself a favor and step away from the keyboard. No matter how hard you stare, the words aren’t just going to magically appear. Go make a hot cup of tea or coffee and take a few minutes away from your story. Take this time to do the dishes that you’ve been neglecting all week, take a walk, or start a load of laundry. Call your mom. Do something to make your mind take a break from the writing mode. This may seem counterproductive, but in my experience, staring at a blank word document does less for my writing confidence than taking a 5-10 minute break and returning.
Brainstorming used to be just jotting things down in a web format or list and elaborating from there. With tools like Pinterest, however, brainstorming has become a new and extremely more helpful tool. Take a few minutes to look at your inspiration board if you have one or start one! Visuals are a great way to get ideas flowing. If you’re a fan of the old school way, make lists of scenes you want to write about (unless you’re not a pantser and have done this already), characteristics for a main character or even ideas for future stories. You never know what small bit of information is going to help you get back into your writing groove. You can even write a blog post (like me) to get those writing juices flowing!
Write Something Else
Maybe you’ve discovered that your plot has more holes in it than you care to fix in a month. Or your characters aren’t cooperating. Don’t give up! Just because the story you set out to write isn’t happening doesn’t mean that you should just stop writing! Pull out that plot or character you’ve had in the back of your notebook for years and start writing! NaNoWriMo is probably never going to go exactly according to plan, that’s the nature of the beast. But don’t use mishaps as an excuse to not meet your goal.
I may be a week behind on my word count, but I’m not going to let that stop me from making this November a productive month on the novel writing front! How is your NaNoWriMo experience? What are your go-to tips to combat writer’s block? Share in the comments!