Got The NaNoWriMo Blues? Five Ways To Get Unstuck

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If you’re doing NaNoWriMo (or are slogging though a first draft at any time!) there will be plenty of days when you get stuck.

Don’t panic!

First off, know that this is entirely normal. It doesn’t mean that you have failed or that your book sucks. It (almost) definitely doesn’t mean that you are working on the ‘wrong’ project and that you should switch to the Shiny New Idea which is fluttering its eyelashes and looking adorable. A couple of weeks with that idea and you’ll be in exactly the same situation – trust me!

So, if you can’t switch projects and you’re not going to give up (as if), what can you do to get the words flowing again?

  1. Stop writing and go for a walk. Or do some cleaning or crafting or take a shower. Activities which engage part of your brain (and get you away from the blank screen), can be perfect for mulling over tricky plot points.
  2. Try a different point of view (POV). Try writing in a different tense or POV (switch from first person present to third person past, for example) or write from the POV of a minor character. Remember, these words aren’t intended for the final manuscript, so it doesn’t matter whether they ‘work’ or not. They’re just to get you writing again and to give you alternative insights into your characters and story.
  3. Go meta and write about your story. Open a new document and tell yourself the story as if you don’t know it. I like to begin with: ‘This is a story about //name//who wants…’ Then you just waffle on about everything you know about your book; where it’s set, what happens, who is in it and what they are like. There will be lots you don’t know and that’s fine, too. Ask yourself questions! Don’t worry if you can’t answer them right away, just typing them out will plant them in your mind, ready for your subconscious to answer.
  4. Write a list of everything you thought was cool about your idea when you started out. The stuff which would make you want to read the book if you were the reader, not the writer. If you’ve done this already, revisit the list and remind yourself of what got you excited about the book in the first place.
  5. Make a book collage (or Pinterest board) or book soundtrack. Concentrate on getting the feel for the story; the atmosphere and tone, but don’t over-think your choices. Just pick the pictures or musical tracks which you feel instinctively belong in your book.

Finally, try not to fret too much about your word count goal (even if you have signed up for 50,000 words during November). All of this day-dreaming and noodling about and writing words which are for your eyes only is part of the process; it is the work.

Good luck and happy writing!

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Episode #09 The Worried Writer: Catherine Ryan Howard ‘The More You Do It, The More You Want To Do it’

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distresssignalsCatherine Ryan Howard is a self-publishing superstar with the successful titles Mousetrapped, Backpacked and Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.

Catherine recently landed a two-book deal with Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books. Her debut thriller, Distress Signals, is out on 5th May 2016.

You can find out more about Catherine and her books at catherineryanhoward.com or follow her on Twitter @cathryanhoward or Facebook.

 

 

Episode 9 includes:

Sneak peak of the title of Catherine’s self-help book (not really): ‘Don’t start until it’s already too late!’

‘I’m going to go all in’: The moment Catherine Ryan Howard committed 100% to her writing.

 

Catherine’s insight on success: ‘I have discovered that if you want something bad enough you will get it done… And it will involve actual sacrifice.’

 

And keeping going: ‘The more you do it, the more you want to do it.’

Catherine also reveals her unusual revision technique:

‘I retype the whole thing… I can’t be one of these people who go like surgically goes into the middle of a chapter and does things – I can’t deal with that at all.’

 

Recommended:


Catherine rates Save the Cat by Blake Synder and uses the concept of ‘beats’ to outline her novels.

Also in the show:

NaNoWriMo has started. Good luck if you’re taking part! I am not doing it officially, but I am trying to get as many first draft words done this month as possible.

I mention my recent writing troubles and the article I wrote as a result: The Only Way to Defeat a Bad Writing Day.

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

 

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