Ah cliches…how do I hate thee…
Cliches are a toughy…they’ve lasted so long probably because of two reasons: 1) we resonate the most with these tried-and-sort-of-true sayings or 2) we’re lazy. I tend to go with the latter.
Not only do they make a story predictable, but they also show a lack of effort on the part of the writer. They can distract a reader from a story filled with otherwise fantastic prose and characters. Sometimes they’re just plain frustrating. Other times they actually inhibit the development of otherwise inventive and creative characters.
And don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s really difficult to write without them. Some are so ingrained in our conscience that we don’t even notice them as cliches or their pervasiveness in our stories. And too, there are very few new things under the sun.
I come to you today with a slightly shorter post. But don’t worry, it’s a super fun topic.
Ever done a word sprint?
If you haven’t, then you’re in for a writing treat! If you have, then you’re probably grinning knowingly. Those who have partaken of a word sprint are never quite the same. Neither is their writing…especially those NaNoWriMo first drafts.
So what is a writing sprint?
For the most part, they follow this formula: a set time (ex. 15 minutes) + key words (pickle, picnic, parsnip) = a writing sprint!
Sprints in the writing world are similar to sprints in the track and field world. Basically, you try to write as many words (or run a set distance as fast as you can) in a set amount of time. Bonus points for getting more words than you did last time (how fun is it to beat your own record, right?).
Except writing sprints are more fun. And leave you less susceptible to injury.
Maintaining your motivation can be one of the hardest things to do as a writer. I don’t know why that is, but so often I find myself staring at a white page and randomly wandering if I need to dust the tops of picture frames or write a list of people I need to buy Christmas gifts for when it’s still the month of July.
And we all know…that doesn’t exactly help you write. No matter how many uses an exhaustive list of who to get Christmas presents for can have, being a tool to stop you from writing should not be one of them.
I’ve talked about this a little bit before in my post on conquering your writing hang-ups and used the tool of self-reflection in the workbook. It’s an extremely helpful exercise and one that can indeed get you writing again.
However, there’s always more work to do amIright?
Especially when lacking motivation is a problem that shows up over and over in your writing life. There could be a deeper issue.
For many people, writing is a serious endeavor. It’s our heart, our passions, and for a few, our livelihood. Maintaining your momentum can be crucial not only to your pocketbook but to your own creativity and self-connection.
Sometimes we don’t need to ask the questions…sometimes we need to treat writing like a job.
Let’s face it: we all give up at some point in our writing journey. In fact, we could probably call it inevitable.
Things happen. We try to write a novel in a month and the weekends aren’t spent writing, and our friends don’t get it, and we lose our steam. We work for years on a work-in-progress without seeming to make any progress at all. We lose inspiration or motivation of confidence.
I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo six times. I’ve finished twice. I know all about giving up.
But I also know about moving on when it feels like giving up is the end of the road. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Camp NaNoWriMo is almost two weeks in. Can you believe it? And yet here is when so many people lose their motivation and taper off, perhaps never looking at the project they started again. This is where the sludge hits. This is where you must show your gumption to make it out on the other side.
I’m all about self-reflection. I think it’s one of the best tools to aid in your writing journey. It makes you better writer and a better person.
Finding a spot to write can be pretty straightforward. If you have a desk or a dining room table, it’s fairly easy to set up your computer and attempt to write. You could even crash on your couch, computer on your lap.
I’ve done all of the above. I’ve also written in some abnormal places and I have to say my writing has benefited from it. Taking the time to go somewhere else, let my brain think in a different place, and let my heart respond to different things than my usual surroundings, my apartment, or my cat, helps my stories become a better reality than if I were to write sitting at home.
Don’t get me wrong, having a usual, normal writing spot that’s mostly all yours and can be a source of comfort and inspiration is really important. It helps trigger your brain that when you sit down, you’re sitting down to work. To write.
But sometimes, the triggers don’t work, or they get distracted, or you stare at the blank screen and wonder what in the world you’re doing.
And when that happens, dear writer, it’s time to get up off your butt and go somewhere else. Grab your computer or your notebook, and get out of there!
And thank goodness that there are plenty of places in the world to write!
For those of you who don’t know, July is Camp NaNoWriMo month! Do you have a writing project you need to tackle? Do you have a novel that needs finishing, or editing, or revising? This is the month to do it.
And because of that, I figured I’d write about First Drafts. There’s a few stages you go through when writing your first draft, of any story and there’s plenty of ways to set yourself up for success. Here are my tips to help you navigate writing your first draft and what I wished I’d known along the way.