Word Count: 33,263/50,000
A friend of mine asked how I’m able to write so much in such a short time underneath all the pressure of things that I have to get done. She complained that she is unable to focus. She talked about how she can’t sort through all the drivel in her head. She talked about how she would start writing, then get mired in some inane detail and she’d stall out.
I told her that I bet she’s trying too hard to write an actual story. Sometimes I think we forget that no one else needs to read these 30 days of writing. The objective is not to write your first draft, it is to write–period. Who the heck cares what you’re writing as long as you’re getting down 50,000 words.
1.) First of all, think positively. I CAN DO THIS! If you start self-sabotaging, then you might as well pack it in. The only person writing the story is you, so you have to power through the bad thoughts, the exhaustion, the panic, and just write.
2.) Don’t wrestle the area that’s giving you trouble. That’s a time sucker plus an energy drainer. Mark it as a plot hole and move on. Switch to a new scene, a new character, blow up a hotel, let the dog talk, anything that is totally different than what you were writing when you get stuck.
3.) Don’t worry about writing chronologically. If you can’t figure out how to transition from one scene to the next, don’t. Just write your next idea.
4.) Wherever you are in your novel, write this sentence in your protagonist’s POV: “I (he/she/it) picked up a pair of binoculars and looked out my window at my next-door neighbors to see if they were doing it again. Suddenly I froze. Through their window, they were looking at me with a pair of binoculars!”
What does your protag think or do next? This is helpful to me when I need to figure out what I don’t know about my protagonist. If I don’t know my protag well enough I get stuck in my plotline, and I don’t know what should happen next. With this exercise I learn things about my protag I didn’t know before, and doors swing open to unchartered territory.
5.) Start writing lyrics to your favorite song. That’s right, just put them smack-dab in the middle of your manuscript. This strategy helps me veer away from that troublesome spot. By writing lyrics to a song I’m writing something familiar, comfortable, and non-threatening. I find that when I’m done writing about that evocative hotel out in California that I can go back to my novel and move on. (Of course, you might want to delete the lyrics once you’re past your 50,000 word mark — or not. Perhaps they belong in there after all.)
6.) Read one of your favorite children’s books. You’re not investing too much time away from your writing because children’s books are short. Plus, they’re packed with most everything you’re supposed to write in a story: conflict/resolution, protag vs antag, beginning/middle/end, setting. Sometimes, seeing it laid out in simpler terms helps us to not feel so overwhelmed. Children’s books are classic examples of the basic formula we all learn when we set out to write.
7.) Treat yourself to your favorite comfort food or beverage. Seriously. It’s amazing what a bowl of M&Ms can do for your muse.