NaNoWriMo

10 Ways to Stay Motivated During NaNoWriMo

New to NaNoWriMo? Not really sure how it works? Comment at the bottom of the post, and I’ll give you some general tips beyond what we’ve talked about here!

I was pretty excited to write about this topic.

In fact, I had so many ideas I was afraid this post would turn into a big mess. Organizing it was harder than writing it.

I just really really love writing about motivation and inspiration.

A while back, I asked for suggestions on Instagram for a new NaNo post. Overall, I saw four main themes in the DMs I quickly received.

  1. Keeping motivated
  2. Keeping focused
  3. Avoiding burnout
  4. Writing snacks (which is most important, obviously)

Because all of those can be condensed into one post, I couldn’t wait to get started!

So, with November fast-approaching, here are my 10 best tips for absolutely slaying those 50K words.

1. SET A SCHEDULED WRITING TIME

For as long as I can remember, my scheduled writing time has been between four and six in the evening.

I got so used to it, now it makes me nervous to not write at that time.

Even when I’m on a writing break (which, of course, is a fairly rare instance), I end up starting random unfinished projects and flash fiction because I have to have my butt in a seat and writing at four o’clock.

The trick is picking which time is right for you.

I chose early evening because, for a while, that was the time I felt most energized. And I could simply write till dinner, then I’d be free for the night.

Here are two things to consider when choosing your scheduled time.

  • At what time are you usually free? If you’re in school from 9-3, picking noon to write probably isn’t a smart idea.
  • When do you feel most energized? Writing is hard work, but writing 1,667 words a day is harder. It’s important to stay focused while you write, so figure out when you’ll have the most energy to put those words down.
  • At what time are you most likely to actually write? Million dollar question right here.

It may take some trial and error, but once you find that perfect time and stick to it, it’ll be like clockwork.

2. GOOD VIBES ONLY

Odds are, you probably have this phrase on a t-shirt. If you don’t, you might have seen one in stores.

Google image search for “good vibes only shirt”

Though the phrase has been run dry, there is some truth to it.

A negative mind will never give you a positive life.

And yes, this applies to writing, too.

I beg of you, writer: do not let negative thoughts rule your mind. Not only will it hinder your writing, it’ll hurt you.

But trust me: constantly thinking to yourself, I’m never gonna do this. I’m not good enough. will destroy any confidence you had built up, and

Some days, all it takes is a positive affirmation to yourself! Or a quick prayer before you sit down to write. Or even just typing “positive quotes” into your search bar.

(Need some quick inspiration now? Pinterest is a great resource for that!)

This brings us right to our next point!

3. ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOUR FIRST DRAFT WILL BE CRAP

There was never a first draft that was ready for publishing the minute you typed the last word, and I can promise you: your book won’t be the first.

Taking the time to acknowledge that your writing will not be perfect will take so much pressure off your shoulders.

If you choose to edit your novel later, that is the time for fine-tuning. But till then, just keep writing through the plotholes and typos that riddle your manuscript.

4. UPDATE YOUR ONLINE PROGRESS CONSTANTLY

All right, I know this probably sounds like a time-waster. Why would you open a new tab when you’re trying to write?!

But the thing is, updating your progress on the NaNoWriMo site every couple hundred words is so encouraging.

It tells your mind you’re making progress. If you only update it every 1,000 words, the process feels slower.

If you’re still concerned about inevitably hopping on Facebook, there are some handy desktop apps to limit your social media time.

I’ve heard good things about the programs Freedom and Anti-Social. I haven’t used them myself yet, but I know some writers who like them!

5. WAIT TO POST THAT #AMWRITING PHOTO

If you’re like me, you love to post heavily-filtered photos to tell the world, “Hey!! I’m writing!!”

While this is especially tempting during NaNoWriMo, don’t do it.

This is a trap I fall into way too often. It’s okay to take a photo of your setup, but don’t edit or post it till after you’ve met your daily goal.

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6. MOOD BOARDS

This is more of a fun thing to keep you sane during the intense NaNo months, but this method can be used to give you some serious inspiration.

If you don’t have a Pinterest already, I suggest you start one. It’s not all recipes and crafts! In fact, I’ve found Pinterest infinitely helpful for improving my writing.

Mood boards are one of my favorite inspiration-seeking methods!

It’s a pretty simple concept: save a collection of photos under the same aesthetic. (Which is why they can also be called aesthetic boards.)

But what sort of aesthetics should I save?

Anything you want! Do you have a favorite color? A favorite city? A general concept you just love, like lipstick stains or pressed daises? Use that!

Uh, why is this important?

It’s visually pleasing; ergo, inspiring. And honestly, when you’re writing as intensely as you do during NaNoWriMo, you’ll need all the inspiration you can get.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a new plot point for your novel in your mood-board!

Puppy inspo!
Flower and nature inspo!
Rose gold inspo!
Autumn inspo!

7. WORD SPRINTS ARE YOUR FRIEND

I can tell you, with 100% honesty, that word sprints are the whole reason I managed to finish NaNo on time.

And it’s so easy.

All I do is set a timer for 15 minutes and write like mad till time runs out. Even Google has a simple timer (just search “x minute timer”), and most smartphones have them built in.

It might take some trial and error to figure out what time span works best for you. I know some people do 30+ minute sprints, and that’s fantastic! Just whatever suits you.

Pro tip: keep track of how many words you write every time! It’s super fun to break your past records.

Pro tip #2: try word-sprints with other writers. I’ve participated in live sprints on Instagram, and they’re almost as fun as doing them yourself.

April 2018 was a very busy time for me.

8. MUSIC & SOUNDS

Some writers like to listen to music while they write. Usually to block outside noises, but also for inspiration and motivation!

When choosing your NaNo playlists, be intentional. Choose content that will motivate you to write as much as you need.

Some ideas:

Search for music that will help you focus. I use songs from the Concentration Music Ensemble.

Create playlists that remind you of your project. It’s also fun to assign certain songs to characters!

Opt for an audio atmosphere instead. Music not your thing? Or do you have trouble focusing with music blaring? Ambient-mixer.com is full of amazing atmospheres for whatever mood you’re trying to set, from Hogwarts common rooms to Paris sidewalks to rainy days. It’s seriously the best.

9. CHANGE YOUR SCENERY

It’s easy to get burnout if you write in the exact same chair, in the exact same room, with the exact same snack, and the exact same music.

I believe I’ve talked about this before, but I’ll say it again: changing your scenery when you write is so so so important.

Write at your local coffee shop instead of your home.

Write on the floor instead of the bed.

Write upstairs instead of downstairs.

Write outside instead of inside.

The unfamiliar location tricks your mind into thinking, “Hey, this is new. Let’s think about this.” Thus, you become more productive and motivated!

10. WRITING SNACKS

I took to social media to ask what our fellow writers are enjoying while they write. Here were some of the responses:

  • Chocolate
  • Nachos
  • Carrots
  • Coffee
  • Sparkling water

What you eat while you write depends on how much you care if your computer/notebook gets messy, the foods your body handles best, and whatever you can eat easily.

Here are the refreshments I recommend personally.

Water. This is the #1 thing I suggest to keep nearby while you write. The hydration will keep you focused and healthy: two things you need when you’re writing for long periods of time.

Coffee & tea. While water is preferred, coffee and teas can give you some much-needed boosts. (Side-note: I do not recommend soda. If you need the caffeine, opt for coffee or a caffeinated tea.)

Nuts. Peanuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, even sunflower seeds are perfect writing foods. They’re easy to eat and won’t leave a mess on your keyboard.

BONUS: UNCONVENTIONAL WAYS TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF

When I was rewriting my novel, I kept myself going strong with sticky notes.

For every chapter rewritten, I put a new sticky note on my wall.

40 notes in all. Most of them are still there, and it’s become so well-known that everyone knows I have a wall full of sticky notes in my room.

As I wrote, I couldn’t wait to add another one. And another, and another. That was my most productive summer yet!

It doesn’t have to be sticky notes. It could be a bullet journal page, a reward system, or whatever works best for you!

Recap

To stay motivated during NaNoWriMo, follow these 10(ish) tips:

1. Write at a scheduled time.

2. Stay positive.

3. Give yourself permission to write crap.

4. Update your online progress as often as you can.

5. Stay off social media during your writing time.

6. Use Pinterest for inspiration-gathering.

7. Utilize word sprints.

8. Choose your music and audio with intention.

9. Change your scenery.

10. Stay hydrated and nourished while you write.

Bonus: Be creative with your motivating tactics.

Let’s talk!

Questions? Comments? Let me know below!

2 thoughts on “10 Ways to Stay Motivated During NaNoWriMo

  1. Hey I just wanted to say I love your blog and am now hungry for a starbucks coffee. I found your blog on Pinterest and absolutely love it. I too am a southern, christian, author. Though obviously a lot newer to this than you. This question doesn’t really pertain to your blog, because honestly you laid out everything so well. But do you think ‘feeling’ like an author helps? Like using a pen to hold up your hair and having lots of notes surrounding you when you write?

    1. Hi there, Laura! Thank you so much for the lovely feedback. I love hearing that people are enjoying my content. 🙂

      As for “feeling” like an author – I would say yes, that definitely helps! There’s something nice about the writer’s aesthetic, like having to keep pen and paper by your bed to write midnight ideas or sticking a pen in your hair. I love having notebooks full of notes and jars full of pens nearby; it’s somehow inspiring.

      Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

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