With NaNoWriMo under way (I’m so behind, but if anyone wants to be my writing buddy, here is my link: Christine Rees), I figured a post about writing everywhere might be helpful! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month — a month in the year dedicated to writing a full novel at 50,000 words. This takes place every November, so it’s already begun!
As authors, both aspiring and published, we often have a drive to write … all the time. But it’s hard to find time when we’re balancing our current paying job with a social life (so we don’t go stir-crazy) and our down time to relax! How can we do it all?
I discovered a secret to writing anywhere — literally anywhere. You’re not obligated to sit in front of your computer. Sometimes our best ideas or characters or details smack us in the face when we’re out and about. After a few years of fantastic ideas assaulting my brain when I wasn’t prepared to handle them, I make sure now I’m ALWAYS ready.
Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike while you’re sitting in front of a computer like a chump, go live your life and be ready for when inspiration strikes. I’ve been hit with the inspiration stick while commuting to work, going on a long drive, walking through the city, and playing with the dog. You never know when you’ll get a great idea, so be equipped to write about it.
I’ve locked myself in a bathroom stall for twenty minutes to drastically write out an idea on my phone so I wouldn’t be disturbed and lose my train of thought. When I pressed save, I resumed my daily activities like nothing happened. Isolating yourself for a few minutes to get your thoughts out of your head gives you a sense of peace while you’re trying to connect the dots. Of course, you’re under no obligation to stand in the bathroom for said privacy. Maybe for you, sitting in your car for an extra ten minutes works better. Find a place where you can be alone and get in the zone.
Phone Notes = my best friend. I write everything on my phone. I will admit, sometimes it’s not always the best idea, but it’s by far the handiest. Sometimes I need to sit for a few minutes to write without bumping into people or risk getting run over — please, pay attention to your surroundings! I get the best ideas when I’m running around doing errands, so taking a minute or two to jot down my thoughts keeps me sane.
Sometimes I write about daily menial tasks that don’t seem important. We often forget to include those tidbits when we’re writing, but they make our stories feel even more real and relatable. They’re important. If you’re writing on-the-go, you may remember what that bus ride felt like or that cold breath of air conditioning running down your neck. Be creative and use that in your writing!
Notebook + Pen
These travel companions come with me everywhere. You never know when you’ll need them. I usually bullet point most things when it comes to book ideas, but sketching (horribly drawn) maps and arrows that connect characters work better on paper. This allows me to plainly view my idea in a way that is easier to manipulate and adjust.
Dump all of your ideas onto paper or a computer doc — whatever works. Don’t worry about organizing what you’re jotting down. They can seem completely messy and unconnected. That doesn’t matter! Just get them out of your head so you have a visual representation that you can sort through later. Then you can piece it together as you craft a story. So dump the information and let the chaos reign! For more information on Brain Dumping’s effectiveness, check out my article for The Student Life Network.
Our greatest ideas may come to us when we’re trying to sleep, which often has us dragging our butt out of bed so we can document it — in some fashion — before we lose consciousness. My suggestion is to keep a notepad and pen beside you so you don’t have to go far. You can quickly scrawl your thoughts before your head hits the pillow.
NaNoWriMo is already here, so make sure you’re ready to reach your goals! You’ve got this, friends!