Maybe you started a project during NaNoWriMo but never quite got around to it finishing it. Maybe you’re contemplating writing your first novel. Either way, you have a story to tell, but there’s one thing standing in the way. The thing that defeats even the most seasoned writers. That blank page of your project, or the next blank page after you’ve barely squeaked out a chapter. It’s staring at you, looming, vacuuming all the witty words you carried with you to your laptop or your notebook straight out of your mind into its vast white void of blankness. Sometimes it can all be too much. You gently shut the lid of your laptop and go make yourself a coffee. Another day, you tell yourself. The muse isn’t here. There’s always tomorrow.
This guest post is by Cheryl Pon, a Product Marketing Manager at Google and forever a writer at heart. She has attempted several NaNoWriMos before proudly crossing the magical finish line in 2014 and wholeheartedly embraces the idea that everyone has a creative muse within that can be brought out with the astonishing frenzy that is NaNoWriMo.
When she’s not wearing her Marketer hat, she enjoys working on one of her two in-progress novels and is always on the quest for the perfect cup of coffee.
But tomorrows become empty yesterdays if you don’t write today. [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet and share it!] And if you’re waiting for your muse, guess what? It’s inside you, just waiting for you to let it shine bright.
Here are five ways to do that:
1. Get into your characters’ heads.
Standing in line at the grocery store after work? What would your character be doing and feeling beside you. Tapping her toes impatiently? Nudging you with a joke to ease the wait? Angry at the how slow the cashier is? What would she complain about? What is she looking forward to? Is she buying a loaf of bread or a lottery ticket?
2. Remember the big picture.
Sometimes the weeds of scenes can press upon you on all sides. Take a step back and reconnect with your overarching themes. Do you feel like this scene ties into the bigger goal?
3. Stay immersed.
As Newton so wisely said, “An object in motion stays in motion.” The more you write, you’ll learn your rhythm, your own natural speed. You’ll find consistency, but only if you embrace the velocity.
4. Set goals and aim high.
Imagine that you’re a reporter working on a hot deadline and you need to turn in 500 words by the end of the day. Imagine that you’re an established famous author and your agent is impatiently waiting for your manuscript. Reward yourself with that ice cream sandwich after you’ve finished that big scene.
5. Attend writing sessions.
Find a Camp NaNoWriMo cabin mate or better yet, schedule or attend an in-person writing session in your local area. Retreat from your normal crazy busy life and give your novel some dedicated TLC in the company of other scribes.
Keep going. Fill your todays with glorious words, making your yesterdays the days that you wrote over five pages of your novel, resolved a problem in your screenplay’s first scene, or completed your poem’s first draft. Don’t delay the adventure you’ve signed up for. Tell your story. It’s yours. Nobody else can tell it. So get it out there. Get the clay on the pottery wheel and start spinning. Work the pedal everyday and the sculpture of your vision will begin appearing.
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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.