How to NaNo All Year with 1 Simple Writing Habit
I’ve been writing like a fiend for the past three days.
It’s an understatement to say I’ve met daily writing goals – I’ve written in excess of 12k words in the span of three to four days, between outlining my current gothic fantasy novel, writing a short story for my blog and general entertainment, and doing a comic script for a client. At times I worry I won’t have enough time in a day to really do things other than write, eat and sleep.
I actually had to make a to-do list. Aren’t I the grown-up writer?
But I know one thing: I’ll always get my daily word count done each day.
How, you might ask? Well my intrepid reader…
It’s a habit.
That’s right: every single piece of advice or written article about managing time for writing, I’ve blended it together in my head and spat out a formula to basically do NaNo all year round. NaNo – you know, the month where every writer worth their salt subject themselves to a frantic thirty days of trying to cram a novel onto their laptops/notebooks in order to prove they could do it – yeah, I do that all year round. Only sometimes I actually produce a legible product, but that doesn’t mean I’m not writing. Sure, all the advice about actions and rewards are all fine and dandy, but I think it’s only applicable after you ask yourself a simple question:
Do you want to do this?
When I was in my early twenties, my resolutions was to write daily. I’m happy to report that the only days I missed writing were sick days (and the four days I spent last month in New York). I’m currently on a 1500-word-a-day binge, and it’s an addictive habit.
Here’s some of what I’ve noted about cultivating writing habits, especially ones to keep up year-round.
Why write daily?
Why does anyone write in a journal every night? Why do artists do morning warm-up drawings? My idea came from a sample of a book I read called The Artist’s Way (I haven’t bought because books nowadays, even on Kindle are flipping expensive) – Morning pages, consisting of three pages of writing done every day. Just literally write to your heart’s content about anything that pops into your head, and just get it all out without editing or censoring in any way.
…I just described sprints, didn’t I?
But if you can get in habit of writing daily, it can actually clear your mind and get your ideas flowing for the remainder of the day. I started writing every day because I wanted to write a new book, but it’s become much more than that. I use my daily writing to vent, think out loud and talk to myself, basically. I live with my characters, so I’m always hanging out each time I write. They help me troubleshoot problems, clear my thoughts and work through anxieties I have. It’s something to look forward to in the morning and it actually sets me in a good mood. Nancy Miller explains how writing a book in a month isn’t as crazy as it sounds here. It’s great advice to motivate you to write daily.
A good benefit is that I’ve worked towards increasing my output since I’ve started writing every day. Before, writing was something I needed to do – whether it was doing commissions, editing works, or helping others – but I’ve barely found the time for.
For you, intrepid reader, figure out why you, personally, want to write more often. Is it to start that blog you’ve had that idea for, to build a following, connect with your inner voice, develop a creative outlet or write a book? In my opinion, these are all good reasons, but it’s good to know which ones are most important to you and which aren’t. The good ones become your guiding forces that give you that nudge to move forth when things get rough.
Lower the bar to start
A friend of mine said that as long as you’ve got control of your own two feet to travel, you’ve got all the time in the world. Just get out of the door. Applying this to writing, we only need to sit down and write. We don’t have to do it perfectly. We don’t have to write a novel in one sitting (unless you’re some prodigy who does that, and if so, bully for you). And if the pencil and paper are already at our desk when we wake up, it’ll be easy to sit and write some imperfect sentences.
Well…it SHOULD be easier.
If we make the goal too grandiose, or if we hide our pencils and papers, we might never start. So don’t be afraid to set the bar low so you can start writing daily.
Seek wise counsel
I asked my friend Jade, also a writer, that I wanted a book on writing fantasy for Christmas this year. She said flat out that I don’t need it. That I could already do it. Me, I’ve had a hard time convincing myself that my fantasy works were good until I met her, and she actually gave me some good feedback and encouragement.
Wise counsel is always good, especially when the counsel finally breaks through your wall inadvertently put up by bad experiences and frustration. Jade’s on the ball and she demonstrated she knew her stuff, and before I was worried if I could grow as a storyteller. She’s the one who drove home that if I learn from someone else, I’ll sound like that person. The best way to tell a writer that they need to pick their own star and follow it in order to succeed.
Wise counsel will give you the inside scoop. Just not in the way you’d expect.
Get connected to a community
If you’ve followed my writing before, you’ll know that I encouraged joining a writing community in order to best NaNo.
Well, I’m pushing that again. Don’t just rely on your own discipline to meet your word counts. Give yourself consequences and find some accountability.
What would that look like for you today? To not just set a goal – writing or otherwise – but to get in a community that is committed to helping you achieve those goals?Find your community. Support, camaraderie, and more should be a goal for any #writer. #writingtips #writersoftwitter Click To Tweet
How could you set up some ramifications, be they positive or negative, for hitting or missing them? Maybe what you need isn’t motivation but a more dire consequence for not doing it. But don’t worry! Get around people who will encourage you and celebrate your small wins.
In closing, you can write in your journal, you can write a story, or you can write every day on a novel. I bet if you put in at least five to ten minutes a day for a year, at year’s end you’ll have a novel.
Do you write every day? What do you do to create a daily writing habit?
He’s been a writer since the age of three. It took him ten years to realize his worth with the written word. T.D. McIntosh is a freelance writer, author, screenwriter, and script consultant who has worked on various projects for the past nine years. In recent months, he’s been doing work for the indie comic company “Noir Caesar” as well as working on his own things, which has brought him to the attention of OWS.