By Alycia W. Morales, @AlyciaMorales
It’s important for writers to be writing. Otherwise, it’s difficult to call oneself a writer. Eh?
Some days it’s a struggle to sit at the keyboard and put words on that screen. We all have them. The cursor blinks at us as if taunting us to dare to move it. One letter at a time. One word at a time. One sentence at a time. One paragraph at a time. One page at a time. One scene at a time. One chapter at a time. One book at a time.
Since it’s November and many of us are participating in NaNoWriMo, let’s explore five practical ways to meet that daily 1,667 word-count goal or that final monthly goal of 50,000 words and the start of a really great book.
- Write every day. Even if it’s one sentence. Put something on the page. You’ll feel better knowing that even if you don’t reach your goal, you at least did something.
- Write in 15-minute intervals. When I’m moving along in my story and a scene eludes me, I get up and take a break. Sometimes, I take that break every fifteen minutes. Getting up to get the blood flowing through your legs again can help get it flowing through your brain again, which allows the words to flow as well. Write in 15-minute intervals. Every 15 minutes, get up and get a cup of coffee or swap around the laundry or wipe down the counter or take the dog for a walk or … well, you get the picture. (You could take a picture.)
- Use voice-to-text software. Write while you’re driving, doing dishes, bathing the baby, walking around the grocery store, or running to your next engagement. Even if you’re only using the recording app on your phone, you can get it onto the computer later.
- Schedule an hour(s) in your daily calendar and take that time only for writing. This isn’t time for researching, as that can easily become a social media/email-checking disaster. This is time for you to unplug from everything and simply write. You’d be amazed how much you can get written in one hour.
- Challenge your friends to a writing marathon. Who can get the most words in an hour on Wednesday from 2-3 p.m.? Set a date and time to go at it. Encourage one another. Set a prize for the person who writes the most. Maybe everyone owes her $5 or has to go in on a Starbucks or Barnes and Noble gift card. (Note: NaNoWriMo sponsors writing marathons. Watch your messages at the site for more information.)
- Change your habits for a month. This may sound crazy, but if your life is hectic during the day and you find it hard to focus while the sun is up—and so is everyone else—consider changing your sleep habits. Set your alarm for a time in the dark of night when the house—and the people in the house—are quiet and sleeping. Does that make you tired? Pick a time in the afternoon and take a nap (like when the kids are … or power nap for ten minutes at the office if you have that gift).
- Give yourself permission to … turn of the internal editor … use “extra” words … write that [you know the word we all use] first draft … fake it … BE A WRITER.
The key to getting words on a page is to guard whatever goal you set with your life. Writing 300 words? Writing for 15 minutes? An hour? Five? Don’t let anyone or anything distract you during that time. Treat it like work. If you were at your 9-5 office job, would you be letting the dog out? Checking Facebook updates? Running household errands? No. Make writing a priority and get those words on that screen. It’s time to win NaNoWriMo!
What ways have you found to meet your words counts? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Alycia W. Morales is an award-winning freelance editor and author. Her clients have won the Selah Award, BRMCWC Director’s Choice Award, and many others. Her writing has been published in Thriving Family magazine, Splickety Love, and several compilation books. She is a member of ACFW, the president of Cross n’ Pens critique group, and a BRMCWC Conference Assistant.
Alycia blogs at The Write Editing and Life. Inspired.
When she isn’t busy writing, editing, and reading, Alycia enjoys spending time with her husband and four children taking hikes in Upstate SC and NC, creating various crafts, coloring in adult coloring books, and watching TV.