Tag Archives: nanowrimo

10 Reasons Not to Write (And How to Get Past Them)

Photo Credit:  Ben Timney

Sometimes the idea of writing is daunting.

The thought alone of stationing yourself in front of your Macbook or Lenovo IdeaPad (for you Franzen fans) can leave you feeling defeated.  The voice in the back of your head is echoing the chastising sentiment of countless blogs and best-selling authors: “why do you want to be a writer if you don’t want to write?”.

To make matters worse, most of us don’t have countless spare hours to spend bleeding ideas on to a typewriter.  We have jobs.  Family.  Social commitments.  The need to cook, clean, run errands, volunteer, and, oh yes, sleep.  It’s okay that we don’t always want to write, right?

Below are ten completely acceptable and realistic reasons to put off writing… but how you can get past them and write anyways.

1. You’re too tired (or sick, or emotional, or worse, apathetic).

November brings us colds and flus, an influx of social obligations, and for many of us… a disgusting amount of mud, slush and snow to clean up after.  The technical term for what your feeling after all this is “blaaahhhhhhh”.  The cure? A hot cup of tea, a Snuggie (or normal blanket) and a simple writing exercise:  Stream of consciousness.

Instead of racking your brain for something edgy and exciting, just spill your brain into your note book.  You’ll either find a gem in that mess, or the strength to keep writing.

2. Your parents are visiting in an hour.  

Dinner to make?  Cushions to fluff?  Dog to walk?  Tylenol to find?   Take ten minutes to write the anticipated dialogue of the night ahead.  Consider it an opportunity to see the humour in your absolutely normal chaos of family stopping by.  Plus, you can later adapt it for your novel.  You could even stretch that into 40 minutes of writing, because really, your parents have seen your messy room before.

3.  Because, the Internet.

Have you heard of Emergency Kittens?  Recipe blogs? Pinterest?  The Facebook? Margaret Atwood on Twitter??  Memes!?!?  Yes, the internet is a magically delicious, disturbing and distracting place.  I have five words for you:  Pens.  Paper.  Pretend power outage.   Get to it!

4.  Because, kids.

Sorry, I can’t help you here.

I have cats, not kids, and they are not the same.  For this reason, I wont pretend that  I have a plan to keep your two year old from putting her socks in your teacup, but hey, consider it inspiration for when they finally fall asleep, and you’re writing stream of consciousness.

5.  You are out of ideas.

FREEBEE WRITER PROMPT: Name 10 insensitive things people say to their friends who just broke up with (or was dumped by) their significant other.  If you’re not crying by the end of it, this exercise should stir up some conflict for your character’s social life.  If you are crying… that was a terrible writing prompt for you.

I am so sorry.

6.  You don’t want to suck. 

You can’t suck at something if you don’t do it, right?  Drop that line of reasoning write-ahem-right now!  You are a writer.  That is the person you want to be and that is the person your dog believes you are too!  He thinks you are the BEST. WRITER. EVER.

If you don’t have a dog, don’t fret: you write better than any dog ever has!  Now take that inspiration and get to scribbling.

7. You miss seeing people.  

Ah, human interaction.  We all need it, even if it’s just in small doses.  Hop over to a crowded local coffee shop, make some small talk with the barista, and get to eavesdropping on patrons beside you.  Whether you’re next to two suits discussing how ridiculous the afternoon’s Powerpoint was, or bachelorette party planners, you have got your healthy serving of socializing and incredible fodder for your story.

Don’t forget your notebook.

8.  You’re just not in the mood.  

Sometimes the candles wont be lit and the lightbulbs need replacing.  Sometimes, instead of rose petals, you’re surrounded by left over pizza crusts. Write anyways, because the desire to write grows with writing.

9.  It feels like work.  

Well, it is.

Fanciful notions of a bohemian or aristocratic lifestyle where you spend a few hours writing on a sunlit balcony (after a night of bumping shoulders and sharing witty banter with other elite artists) are not constructive.

Writing is work.  You won’t always want to do it, and you won’t always be in the mood, but to be a writer, you have to push through it.  Anything worthwhile WILL take a little bit of work.

10.  You’re too busy kicking yourself for not writing sooner.

Okay, I lied.  This is not an acceptable reason for not writing, but it’s one so many writers  fall back on consistently.  We punish ourselves sulking over the time we spent re-watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and now that’s two hours gone that we could have spent writing.

Take a breath, forgive yourself and take advantage of the time you do have to write, right now.  It’s that easy.

What other acceptable reasons for avoiding writing to you fall back on?  How do you push through them? Leave a comment below or tell us on twitter, #writeanyways.

Plan, Even A Little: How to Write a Book in 30 Days


credit: jjpacres
credit: Jeffrey James Pacres

 When it comes to writing, some of us are plotters, who will map out each detail of the story before they begin writing their first draft.  Others are “pantsers”, who write the story as it comes to them, flying by the seat of their pants.   Even if you fall into the latter category, a little planning will save you time and energy.

Below are eight simple steps to help you conquer your plan to write a novel in 30 days:

1.  Self-identify.

Establishing the method of planning best suited towards to takes a little bit of introspection.  Highly valuable introspection.  Its better to spend a half an hour asking yourself how you work best than trying to force your self into an impersonal plan of action. To get you started, author (and advocate of highly colourful language- just a heads up )Chuck Wendig has you covered with 25 Ways to Plot Plan and Prep your story.

2.  Create space. 

Designate a regular writing area.  It doesn’t have to be an office anymore than a latte-stained table at Starbucks.  Having a writing space will create a sense of purpose that will come in handy as you start your thirty-day writer’s marathon although you are not obligated to write there exclusively.  Write when you feel compelled to, no matter where you are. Unless you’re driving.  Do not write while driving.  If your muse demands you write that very moment, pull over.

3.  Set aside time.

There are a lot of early birds that seem to advocate writing when the sun rises, or even before then, but this doesn’t work for everyone.  Some of us will dedicate that time to yoga,  seeing our kids of to school or, let’s be honest, sleeping.  The point is to make the time to write.  Five in the morning?  Sure!  A few hours in the evening?  Why not?  On your two-hour lunch?  Go for it, you lucky dog.

4.  Respect your time.

The next crucial step is to sit down to your writing space, on time, and write.  You’ve made a commitment to write for two hours before Survivor comes on, so stick to it!   Much like skipping doctor’s appointments or dinner with your in-laws, postponing or cancelling your writing time will cost you in the long run.

5.  Create smaller goals.

Writing a book is a big goal, and theres nothing wrong with big goals… except that they can be scary and intimidating and make us want to curl up on the couch eating Cheetos instead of writing.  DO NOT GIVE UP ON THAT BIG GOAL.  Instead, bring down that beast of a challenge by breaking it into smaller goals.  NaNoWriMo prescribes to a word count of 1,666 per day, but feel free to march to the beat of your own drum.  Write for two hours, write three chapters, write until you have to pee,  it’s completely up to you!  As with all goals, ensure they are challenging but tangible.

5.  Stttrreeeeeeeeettttch.

Stand up.  Stretch.  Sit down.  Keep writing.

6.  Stay put. 

If you are anything like me, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR WRITING SPACE.  Stay in your writing space until you are finished for the day, or distraction will get you.  Do not allow yourself to stray beyond the confines of your writing abode unless absolutely necessary, and no, a refill on Cheetos is not absolutely necessary.

7.  Socialize.

When you aren’t writing, make sure you spend time talking to real people.  Your characters might be amazing, but voices in your head aren’t the only ones you should hear.   If you’re dying to get back to work, fear not! Consider conversations with colleagues, friends or family a chance to bounce ideas off of them about your plot line or characters.  If you’re the secretive type, consider whether your characters could learn a thing or two from your own personal interactions.

8.  Keep going.

Sometimes writing hurts, and that’s okay.  Sometimes we hate our characters.  Sometimes we don’t know what to say.  Write anyways.  Keep going, it will be worth it.

If you don’t finish a novel in thirty days, do not beat yourself up.  Ultimately, quality is what matters most, and there is noting wrong with needing more time to do that.