In honor of Camp NaNoWriMo starting in July (in TWO DAYS, yikes), I thought I’d step away from my usual book-related posts and share some writing tips I use to get myself to sit down and actually write. I don’t know about you guys, but when it comes to reading and writing, I tend to swing one way or the other: I’m either ONLY reading or ONLY writing, and I continually struggle to balance these two passions. For the past 2 months, I’ve continually found myself saying: “Eh, writing? I’ll pick it back up tomorrow. Or this weekend. Or the next.” AND THEN IT NEVER HAPPENS. Literally, between May & June, I sat down and wrote a grand total of 10 TIMES. (Which is truly sad because I wrote every day in April for that month’s Camp NaNo).
So, basically, I’m writing this post not only motivate YOU, but to remind myself of ways I trick myself into writing. We can do this, you guys!
1. Bribe Yourself to Write!
Whatever you consider a treat–bribe yourself with it to write. This can be things like coffee, soda, popcorn, and wine (if you’re 21+). You could take yourself out to a coffee shop. I tend to bribe myself with coffee drinks and wine in the evening. If you pair your writing sessions with things that you enjoy, you’ll form a positive association with writing.
2. Reward Yourself for Writing!
Now, I know this sounds pretty similar to the first tip, but while bribing yourself is something you do to actually write, while rewarding yourself is something you can do upon the completion of a successful writing session. Rewards can be whatever you want, as long it motivates you. Again, this can be food or drinks, or as simple as watching the next episode in your fav TV show, or spending an hour reading.
Additionally, you can make long term rewards. E.g. “If I finish my current draft of my WIP, I’ll buy myself that book I’ve had my eye on for awhile now.” Or you could set rewards for every 50K or 10K words you reach.
3. Have a Writing Totem! Or food, or music…
Now you’re probably asking, “What’s a writing totem?” This is something that I learned about in Chris Baty’s book, No Plot? No Problem!. A writing totem is something that you only wear when you write, to signal to yourself that you’ve switched over to writing mood. This could be a hat, a scarf, or even something as simple as earrings.
But honestly, this doesn’t even have to be an article of clothing. It could be a certain type of food you eat, or music you listen to. It could even be a specific scented candle that you light! As long as you ONLY utilize these items when you write, so they’re special to your writing sessions.
What I do is only allow myself to eat Honeycomb cereal when I write. I don’t let myself eat it any other time, even though it’s my favorite cereal. So if I want to eat Honeycomb cereal, I have to be writing or working on my WIP in some degree.
4. Dress for Battle!
Though this is somewhat similar to wearing a writing totem, it’s not quite the same. Essentially, dress to impress yourself. If lounging around in your pjs makes you feel lazy & unmotivated, simply get dressed! Wear your favorite clothes and do whatever makes you feel like you’re at your best. On weekends, when I hope to get a lot of writing done, I like to braid back my hair and sometimes put on a little makeup. And I always wear my favorite graphic tees or cute tank tops. So if adorning a beret makes you feel artsy, do it! Dress however makes your writer self happy.
5. Participate in Writing Challenges!
Whether it’s international or personal, join challenges and hold yourself accountable! In July 2018 and April 2019, I participated in Camp NaNo, and the online forums and tracking really helped me stay motivated and accomplish a lot of writing. If you haven’t tried Camp NaNoWriMo before, I totally recommend it! You can personalize your goal to fit your circumstances.
Currently, my writing buddy and I are competing to see who can write the most words in June. Loser buys the other a coffee. (I’m super competitive, so I really need to go see how much writing I can cram into these last two days, because I think she’s currently beating me…)
Also, if you guys know about more organized writing challenges, please let me know!
6. Find a Writing Community!
This is so important to have, not only to motivate yourself to write, but as a writer in general! Find your community, whether in be a local group, online forum, or a few writing buddies. I don’t know where I’d be without my writing buddy, who I’ve known since high school. She’s there to not only read my work and give feedback, but she let’s me bounce ideas off of her. She keeps me excited and motivated to work on my WIP, even when it seems like everything I write is a mess.
This past year, I’ve also discovered a few writing groups through Meetup. This site allows you to not only discover local writing events, but all different bizarre kinds of meetups! This is where I discovered the international group, Shut Up & Write!. All around the world, people meet up to simply write together for an uninterrupted hour. When I was in NYC and working on my creative writing project, these weekly writing meetups were a lifesaver–I got a lot written in these hours than I ever did on my own. And even if you can’t find anything on Meetup, look for groups through your local libraries and bookstores. Trust me, there are other writers out there waiting to connect with you!
Remember, every writer is different, so experiment with what works best in motivating yourself to write. You guys totally got this–I believe in you. Happy writing! ❤