NaNoWriMo Day 1: Pantsing vs Planning

Words Written Today: 1,900
Total Words Written: 1,900
November 1, 9:00pm

NaNoWriMo is upon us writers once again. And I am ecstatic.

Well, kind of.

Every other year I get so incredibly excited for NaNoWriMo, to the point where I’m prepping my novel in September, and writing out details for every character and every chapter and just everything.

You see, generally, I’m a planner.

This year, however, I’m not gonna lie. November kinda snuck up on me. I actually completely forgot about NaNoWriMo because of all my stress about school, and midterms coming up, and projects, and extracurricular stuff and more. NaNoWriMo wasn’t even close to being in my priorities. But then, this afternoon, I just kinda decided to go for it.

I haven’t written in such a long time, so when I opened up some documents and outlines to write for this month, all my love for them had depressingly drained out. And I had no time to write an outline.

What was I supposed to do?

I pantsed my story.

This is something I’ve never done. Yet I had nearly 2,000 easy words down in around an hour. This is a more than rare occurance for me. But I’m kind of happy I’m doing it, as of now.

I think that if you prep too much for a story, it becomes less fun to write. Because then you feel you have to stick to the outline and the structure so much that the story loses all the surprises and the fun stuff to write. But now, I’m just kinda going for it.

Let’s hope I stick with it, though.

Happy writing,

Sarah

*Add me as a buddy! http://nanowrimo.org/participants/sarahkalmakoff

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5 Easy Ways to Write More

Oftentimes we find ourselves caught up in what’s going on from a day-to-day basis. We forget small hobbies and interests, goals we’d been meaning to achieve, checking up on our clan on our phones… We lost track of what we really want to be doing. And for lots of us (I’m assuming you came to this blog expecting writing advice and geeked-out posts about books–don’t worry, you came to the right place) writing is one of those things that we really want to be doing, but just don’t have the time to do. Well, today I’m writing to help you get out of that muddled mess of lost priorities.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Why am I not writing?

Did I lose motivation?

Did I hit a point of writer’s block? Or a plot hole?

Did I let myself get carried away with the rest of my life and lost track of where I wanted to be in my writing career?

Now, you see, these questions are coming from the mind of one of the worst procrastinators and late-night crammers. (Okay, that makes me sound bad. I promise I still get everything done… Just not in a healthy way–stress headaches here we come!) But nonetheless, when I lose track of where I want to be in my writing, I often find myself asking these very questions. And usually, a little bit of reflection, some coffee, and a whole lot of nagging can get me to start writing again.

Coming from those questions, what are some reasons why you are not writing? Could it be that you don’t have enough time? You lost the habit and never tried to get it back up and running again? Whatever the case may be, there is a very good chance that you want to get back into the habit of writing. Because let’s be honest here. You’re here reading this blog because you love to write or read. Whether you’ve written before or are just dipping your toes into the waters, you have shown some sort of interest and developing a habit to write. And with writing, habit is almost essential.

Here are five easy ways to get yourself to write more and be a better writer.

1. Read.

This probably already sounds like a bad step. I promise you, it is not. I have not come across a single writer who does not like (love) to read. We read for inspiration. You must read more to expand your knowledge of all genres of literature (or specifically the genre you prefer to write in). Read bad books and amazing books to get a taste of what you want your writing to be. Analyze stories carefully and take notes on what the author did that was effective, and what wasn’t. Write down special ways the author moved the plot along and how they gave their characters life and what you can gather from this to incorporate into your own writing. Read for fun, but also as research.

2. Carry a notebook around everywhere (or use your cellphone, you technologically advanced being, you).

Take notes on every single idea that comes to mind. Immediately, or as soon as possible. If you come up with an idea for a character, a line, a title, a plot twist, an entire plot in general, anything. Write it down. You may think that you’ll remember it after the walk from the bus to your office, or from the dinner table to your bedroom, but after just a couple minutes, you’ll find that the amazing idea is lost within a whirlwind of other ideas. I used to find that this was where I lost a lot of my story ideas.

3. Make a habit of daily writing.

Without writing every day, you’ll find that you slowly become less and less consistent with your writing. Sure, you might jot down the odd phrase every now and then, or go at it for two hours every once a month, but that is not going to improve your writing. I always find that if I start drifting away from daily or bi-daily writing, I become distant from my story, and my entire manuscript goes to crap and I can hardly pick it back up after. Making writing a daily thing is super hard. It feels impossible for the first while. But, you know how they say that it takes around 21 days to a month to form a habit (if you didn’t know, now you do)? NaNoWriMo is a month long, but oftentimes, no real habit is formed. That’s because you’re pushing yourself a lot more than usual. Write (daily or bi-daily) at a pace that is good for you. Otherwise, you may become overwhelmed and give up. Then you’re back to Stage One.

4. Keep track of your writing.

I find spreadsheets to be really nice to keep track of how much I’m writing and when. I usually throw the date in there, how long I’m writing for, be it sprinting or just leisurely writing, and then how many words I got down. Afterwards, I total up the times and the wordcount for the day. This honestly helps so much. It helps you to notice your patterns of writing, how long you need to write–or how short–to get your best wordcount, and if you put down times, when you are able to write the most (for me, it’s at night). If you make a habit of doing this alongside writing, you’ll see a lot of improvements.
Here’s an example of what one of my spreadsheets would look like:

Spreadsheet example.

Spreadsheet example.

5. Find motivation in everything. 

Whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, real life and not the Internet–anything! Inspiration and motivation can be found all around you. Use whatever little thing you can get to motivate you to write, and inspire you to create. This one is most likely the hardest and the easiest way to write more in this entire post.

Well, that’s all I have for you today. If you have any more ways that you use to write more, or ones you think I should consider to add, drop a comment below and let me know!

Happy writing everyone!