For years I’ve been wishing for some kind of automated, daily accountability to keep me inspired and motivated – and I’ve heard a lot of other authors asking for the same thing. The problem is, writing can be a very personal goal, and sometimes it’s hard to self-motivate, especially if nobody else really cares about what you’re trying to do.
But you CAN do it, even if you’re already feeling overwhelmed. Here are six tips to help you succeed (at Nanowrimo and at life).
The Ultimate Nanowrimo Prep Checklist
1. Clear Your Plate
Someone asked me recently how to find balance, between life and writing. I don’t feel qualified to answer, because I don’t “find balance” – I drop the ball. If you’re trying to juggle too many things, you’ll never master any. Yes, we have responsibilities and need to earn a living, but you just need a few small chunks of time to write. If you can’t find them, you’re going to need to give something else up.
This isn’t about doing everything, it’s about doing less. It’s learning how to say no and when to say yes. It’s about putting yourself and your writing first. This may require some support from friends and family, or maybe you just let a few projects slide. You can create a lot of mental bandwidth by giving up on some items (instead of having them loom over you, creating doubt and guilt – because you haven’t done them).
2. External Accountability
Working around other people helps keep you on task and in the zone; that’s why I love doing writing retreats and surrounding myself with other authors. I’m in a productivity camp in Thailand, and every day we have to check in, set our goals, and checkin again 8 hours later.
You can set up your own writing group, or at least find a writing buddy (there are even sites you can use, like FocusMate.com, which pairs you up with someone to do a short burst of coworking. You can organize your own by getting on a group skype call, and “write together” even if you’re far apart.
Make sure someone knows what you’re trying to achieve. Try and make sure someone is counting on you to finish (teams of writers competing for word count goals can work well).
3. Timed Sprints
Set a timer for 20 minutes. Sit down and write. Do three writing sprints a day and you will finish in no time (with practice, most people can write 600 words in 20 minutes). There are also gamification tools to keep writing fun, like WriteorDie or 4TheWords.
After experimenting with the best writing apps and keyboards for writers, I have a new system that works well: I make sure I know what’s’ going to happen in each scene (and can remember it and write it down in a sentence or two) – then I move to a bluetooth keyboard and my iphone, using the iAwriter app. Small screen, no distractions, always move forward.
It can also help to close your eyes, or turn the screen around (you can better visualize, and use the meaning of the words without focusing on the letters.
4. Track Results
Have a calendar and put it up somewhere visible – cross off the days you hit your wordcount goal; also write down the wordcount. You want to build a visible chain of success, that propels your forward. There are apps that track this, but you should be able to see it all the time.
You can also share an excel file in dropbox or google spreadsheets – you can set it up so your writing group can each post their daily wordcount, and it will keep a running total.
5. Confidence Games
There are some interesting psychological tricks you can use on yourself to stay confident, but the biggest thing is to watch your language; confidence is your body and voice. Look yourself in the mirror and say “I’m the type of person who’s capable of completing 50,000 words in a month” (a friend of mine is putting something together based on research that shows we are extremely fluid in our self-evaluation, it can be helpful to have someone ELSE say this to you, or ask “are you the type of person I can count on this to finish Nanowrimo?”)
You can even record your own voice saying “YOU are the type of person” vs “I’m the type of person.” You may not believe in you yet, but you can choose to install that belief with deliberate neuro-programming.
(Watch the video for most productivity hacks and tricks, there’s some really good ones!)
6. Energy Maintenance
Last but not least, make sure to take care of yourself and recharge. You’re going to need MORE sleep and rest than usual, or your brain will catch on fire. Get sunlight, put your feet to the grass, breath deeply. Fix you posture and writing set up. Try alternating to a standing desk whenever possible. Take frequent breaks to stretch and move. Drink LOTS of water.
Remember, don’t try to do MORE – you’ll burn out if you do too much. November should be about doing LESS, and choosing to drop some responsibilities so you can focus on your writing
The Robots are Coming…
One of the ways I’m trying to be productive, is to fix or finish some of my “evergreen funnels” – and start using some smarter tools to keep my platform growing on autopilot (so I can just write books, without doing the marketing).
I posted this on Facebook:
I recently watched the 1936 movie “Modern Times” – Charlie Chaplin does a skit of exactly this: robotic feeding arms on an assembly line. We aren’t quite there yet, and robots or automation isn’t the answer to everything, but the whole point of creativindie is to generate more income with less time investment, so you can use your influence to support Big Ideas and Things That Matter.
Watch the video below of the assembly line… the trick is NOT to do the simple, repetitive tasks, because you’ll always be stuck. You want to build Value Assets that can keep earning even when you finish the work.
PS. From next week, I’ll be focused on writing, playing around with more advanced platform building techniques, and working exclusively with those of you in my Guerrilla Publishing course. I’m also finishing up the Bookseller Bootcamp (if you want to check that out and don’t need hand-holding, this link will get you 91% off – $17 instead of $197.
I just added some amazing resources for nonfiction writers.
It’ll go up to full price tomorrow.