5 Writing Tips I Learned During NaBloPoMo

29 Nov

inspiration, writing, daily prompt, writers, sign, quoteNaBloPoMo is hard, ya’ll. Writing is in my blood, and yet, at this stage in the game I’m ready to throw in the towel on writing forever. I’ve fatigued my brain, and I’m sure some of you may have noticed the quality of my posts going down.

I’ve always thought NaBloPoMo would be much easier than NaNoWriNo simply because of the variety and lesser word count that it allows. What I failed to realize (for the second year in a row) is that NaBloPoMo requires 30 consecutive finished pieces rather than one piece which can be edited at a later time. In this way, it can be much more challenging.

Aside from the writing itself, it has been difficult to stay inspired. If you normally write twice a week, it would take you 15 weeks (or almost 4 months) to write 30 posts. A lot of stuff can happen in 4 months which would make for interesting blog material.

This is why learning ways to engage the “Hey that would make a good post!” side of your brain is important. Below are ways I’ve coped during this month of hell awesome blog challenge.

Read. Read. Read.

It doesn’t matter what you read, but reading will make you a better writer. Find a few set blogs who really engage you mentally and emotionally, and faithfully read their material. Reading the news can also spark a debate in your head that you may want to bring online. I was Freshly Pressed after reading an inflight magazine, and have been known to talk my roommate’s ear off about things I’ve read on shampoo bottles. The blogging world is also full of people willing to let you “borrow” their ideas if you just ask and link back.

Get outside

Sitting at the computer for a couple of hours is the easiest way to put your brain on auto-pilot. You’ve looked at the same words over and over again, and you couldn’t think of the next sentence if your life depended on it. When this happens to me, I get outside. I’ll go for a walk, sit in the grass, go for a drive. It doesn’t matter, I just need to get away from my writing environment. When you allow your brain to focus on something else for awhile, it frees up the creativity that was blocked behind concentration and frustration.

Prompts

I will admit, out of every 1,000 prompts, maybe one will work for me. I’m a person who needs to be moved mentally or emotionally by something, and prompts usually can’t get me there. However, I have seen this work for a lot of people, and have read some pretty great posts which came from prompts. The Daily Post offers them every day, and my favorite ones have come out of this writing prompts Tumblr account.

Unleash your creative side

What better way to fuel your writing creativity than by practicing other creative things? I love all things DIY, and spend a lot of my down time making art for my house, or gifts for other people. Allowing myself to tap into a different kind of creativity has helped me kickstart my writing on several occasion. I made seasonal candle holders while writing my bizarre dating ads post, and made clay beads for a bracelet during the juice cleanse piece. Focusing on arts/crafts is also extremely therapeutic and relaxing, and I’d recommend trying your hand at it even if you aren’t a writer.

Try something new

If you normally watch action movies, try a documentary. If you drive the same way to work every day, trying taking a different route. If you’ve been wanting to learn how to sew, finally enroll yourself in that class. Writing can be like a tree. We need to spend a lot of time tending to it to help it grow, and when finally shake it up a bit, we never know what might fall out. Exposing yourself to unfamiliar situations will not only help you broaden your perspective and learn a few things, but it can often breathe new life into stale ideas.

I don’t pretend to be a writing expert; on the contrary, I am still figuring out how to navigate around writer’s block, and stay focused and motivated on my writing. These are just the things I’ve learned having survived NaBloPoMo 2013.

I want to know: how do you get yourself unstuck and motivated to write again?

61 Responses to “5 Writing Tips I Learned During NaBloPoMo”

  1. Gunmetal Geisha 12/13/2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Guess you answered my question from your next post in this one…

  2. javaj240 12/01/2013 at 8:46 pm #

    Great tips!

    Often, I get unstuck by walking away. Or by trashing the piece and writing something new. Sometimes I come back to the original, sometimes I don’t. I have lots of half-finished pieces laying around, LOL!

  3. Kylie 11/30/2013 at 7:58 pm #

    Jen, your posts were consistently good. I was so grateful for this last week of Haiku!! I still have to eke something out tonight and I’m just NOTINTHEMOOD.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/01/2013 at 4:46 pm #

      Thanks! And congrats on making it to the end! Well done.

  4. Gibble96 11/30/2013 at 4:41 am #

    I love listening to writers speak aloud and read aloud at Literary Festivals.

    At WCU, I was lucky enough to personally attend the 2012 and 2013 Spring Literary Festivals. I got to hear authors from around the country, and truly, hearing the written word spoken by its source voice transcends a work; and I learned about the powerful connection between the spoken voice and the written voice. One of the great regrets of my life was missing out on Ron Rash’s night on the podium (I napped too long, too hard), though I got to listen to his mentor, Daniel Woodrell speak the next year.

    Since then I try to find Literary Festivals posted to YouTube and other recordings of writers speaking to an audience at symposiums and such. A good one I’ve found was the Aspen Summer Literary Festival, which had a great 7+ hours of writers speaking, though they didn’t have too many pieces read (mostly writers talking about writing). It also followed a different format than WCU’s; WCU usually had one or two authors speak per night, with each reading a piece and discussing whatever writing topics they chose. Aspen brought in their writers together each night to talk about a different topic.

    Technically, I’ve only witnessed a few literary festivals in my life; so I probably shouldn’t vouch so fervently with my limited experience; but the WCU festivals were just such incredible experiences, and I’d recommend attending a festival live if you ever find one near you. I’d guess that they usually take place at universities.

    Listening to other writers speak aloud, or write on their blog ;), jump starts my writing batteries when they’re empty.

    However, I’d say that music is my single most important powerful inspirational source.

    Mm… I guess that’s all I got XD. Hope some of this was insightful; I’m going to try and apply some of your tips to help me through my own writing issues.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/01/2013 at 4:46 pm #

      Very insightful! I love the idea of listening to a writer read/his her work, or speak on the topic of writing. I do think it elevates the words to a different level. Whenever I’ve gone to book signings, I’m surprised by how the writer emphasizes different things when he/she speaks. It breathes new life into the book.

  5. -Pille- 11/29/2013 at 11:50 pm #

    I didn’t sign up for NaBloPoMo since my blog is purely a photoblog (yeah – words.I.not.can.do), but I did work my patootie off to post at least once a day – and I made it :) It was actually quite fun coming up with new stuff and seeing what made people react and what left them cold.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/01/2013 at 4:45 pm #

      I think you should look into the rules because I think photoblogs may count. Not sure, but worth a look!

      • -Pille- 12/01/2013 at 11:17 pm #

        Thanks, I’ll take a closer look at the rules.

  6. trishnanamchoom 11/29/2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Reblogged this on Memoirs of a Dreamer and commented:
    explorer of a different sort..

  7. jaklumen 11/29/2013 at 9:26 pm #

    I found a handful of years back that writing thoughts on napkins, especially if I couldn’t sleep, helped my writing. It’s a bit of a clichéd stereotype for artistry generally, but I found in the digital age… it actually works! I *especially* recommend doodling as part of that process– I haven’t developed graphic art talent quite as much as some of my friends and family (including Cimmy and my daughter), but, it works.

    Handwritten letters helped a lot, too. While I actively ignore the “Mo” stuff, I really like “A Month of Letters”– I think the woman that started it used to live in Portland.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/01/2013 at 4:43 pm #

      I always have a notebook on hand for that reason! I do like the idea of writing on napkins. It has an old school coolness about it that I love.

      I haven’t heard of that Month of Letters, but I am definitely going to look into it.

  8. amnaakkas 11/29/2013 at 8:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on amna akkas and commented:
    wonderfully written!

  9. oddgirlnextdoor 11/29/2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Fantastic post. I admit, I’ve come to expect them. You write in a way that I can relate to, and you’re not afraid to put yourself out there and give the rest of us pointers which we could really really use. When I’m stuck, I’ll just doodle away with colored pencils. I’ll also admit I’ve been known to raid my daughter’s coloring book collection just for something to let my mind wander while trying to stay in the lines, or make the picture become 3D (tho I’m by no means great at it, it makes my brain think down a different kind of track if you would). Hell, I’ll go karaoke too, knowing that my knees will be knockin while I’m up there, but I get a sense of accomplishment from finishing something outside of my comfort zone. I LOVE to sing, in front of others, not so much lol But, even though I have anxiety, I find getting up there and belting it out brings my anxiety throughout the rest of the week to a much more controllable level than I ever knew it could (this means less adivan and more feeling myself without meds). Thanks again for another great post! By the way, Happy Belated Birthday! This is in case my comment didn’t post then, my app wasn’t cooperating lol Have a fantastic day, and you’ll do great on your writing challenge!

    • Jen and Tonic 12/01/2013 at 4:42 pm #

      Thanks! I’m glad that people can relate to what I’m writing here. That is my goal with everything I put out. I love that reader-writer connection.

      Good for you for singing in front of others! It is TERRIFYING, and I’ve only ever done it drunk. I’d like to be brave enough to do it sober.

      • oddgirlnextdoor 12/01/2013 at 5:31 pm #

        Start in increments. Singing a drink or two earlier than you normally would. Choose a song that means more to you than your fear, and raise the roof! When you have a song that’s like that, everyone disappears for that moment and it’s just you and that song. Best. Feeling. Ever. It’s almost (and I mean almost, not is haha) just as cathartic as a tattoo. Personally though for me, nothing beats ink lol

  10. C. Miller 11/29/2013 at 7:31 pm #

    NaNoWriNo. XD

  11. shreejacob 11/29/2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your twerkingly awesome tips! (Sorry, I couldn’t help it :D)
    I’m like you in a way…prompts don’t really help me much. I can’t get instant inspiration from them…but sometimes I’ll let it sit and ferment in my mind..and sometimes I get some pretty good ideas…sometimes (most times) totally forgetting about them!

    I used to post 2 times a week…I didn’t realise that’s 4 months worth of posts! Hmmm..I wonder if that means I could take a 4 month break? hmm…..

    It’s strange but I get some of my ideas in the bathroom…really. I was actually thinking of writing a post asking where people got their inspirations from…like a location…because that’s always fun to know and I can be a nosy parker!

    You should post stuff or pictures of your DIY projects!!! (and if you have please excuse this…my excuse will be I just started following your blog)

    Reading was a good tip…but you know…that thought bubble hanging over one’s head going..”omg, omg..you need to put a post! time is running out! stop wasting your time!”….can make it quite stressful for me at least.

    The going outside one definitely helps. I can just hear my mind going…’Ahhhhhh! Thank you!”.

    Congrats on your blogging adventure and your posts were all great!!

    • Jen and Tonic 12/01/2013 at 4:40 pm #

      I haven’t ever posted my DIY projects here, but maybe I should! I am making Christmas presents this year so I could do a round up of my crafts.

      The bathroom, yes! A friend and I were discussing how the shower is the best time for ideas to come out. Is that where you get yours too?

      • shreejacob 12/01/2013 at 9:41 pm #

        Nah…well sometimes…mostly it’s when I’m standing in front of the sink, having a ciggie…staring unseeingly at myself or the shelf of face wash…then the idea sorts of floats in..lol.

        Great! It’s be cool to see your crafty side :)

  12. girlseule 11/29/2013 at 6:12 pm #

    I liked your tip about unleashing your creative side by doing something different. I find ideas often pop into my head when I go for a walk.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/01/2013 at 4:38 pm #

      A walk is one of the easiest ways to reboot your brain, I agree!

  13. meredithwyatt1990 11/29/2013 at 5:47 pm #

    Reblogged this on Speak Through Your Heart and Your Mind Will Follow and commented:
    I should follow this. Even with the holidays and my hectic schedule, I feel so uninspired. Empty of all my creativity unless under pressure, a state I hate to be in

  14. Elyse 11/29/2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Wait . You’re not going to continue this through December?

  15. Twisted Spinstre 11/29/2013 at 5:02 pm #

    The best thing I’ve found to do is to go some place completely new and either walk around or have coffee or lunch by myself. I also live near a major city with many museums to stroll through to clear my head. I try to sleep in when I can and turn off the technology for a day or so.

  16. omtatjuan 11/29/2013 at 4:34 pm #

    I’m a worker with too much down time thus a post a day, well that and having no life! You keep going Jen!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 4:36 pm #

      Could be that you’re just naturally a writer, and I have to really work at it to be one!

      • omtatjuan 11/29/2013 at 5:19 pm #

        I read your words and if you have to try, you’d never know it! And the draw of likes is amazing. I’m lucky if I get my cat readings posts. Though I put my hand on their paws to press the like button..

  17. projectechoshadow 11/29/2013 at 3:25 pm #

    I signed up for both nanowrimo and nablopomo, because in I’m insane. So my mind is mush but I did both adequately.

    ECHO ECHO

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 4:29 pm #

      WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH IT? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

      • projectechoshadow 11/29/2013 at 5:40 pm #

        around eight thousand words left in my novel, and I posted chapters to my blog, so often it was two birds with one stone. Also I’m insane, I think that’s the main point here.

        ECHO ECHO

  18. projectechoshadow 11/29/2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Reblogged this on Echoshadow.

  19. CrazySmartClueless 11/29/2013 at 2:33 pm #

    two words. time off.
    I need to step away when I’m dry… and immerse myself in others genius (aka SOJAT) for a while. then, I suddenly wake up with something to say.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 4:28 pm #

      Nothing beats a good ‘ol fashioned break. I wish I had had more time for that during NaBloPoMo. It always felt like I had to be full steam ahead. I’m happy that NaBloPoMo exposed me to some rockin’ blogs, and I’ll be able to keep up with people like you WAY more easily once it’s over.

  20. daniheart21 11/29/2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Currently stuck. lol Trying to write at this very moment so far unsuccessfully. sighs… You have down time???? giggles. I am going to check out that link you provided. What I would like to write about will be controversial and piss off some people…so I think I will skip that post for now. Then again…. some days I can’t help stirring the pot. ;)

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 4:27 pm #

      Just out of curiosity, why are you putting off the post that will piss some people off? Is it because you’re afraid, or because you haven’t fully formulated your thoughts yet?

      • daniheart21 11/29/2013 at 4:34 pm #

        Fear! My thoughts are very formulated. LOL

        • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 4:35 pm #

          Honestly, you can’t worry too much what people will think. As long as you have a solid argument, and are being respectful in your delivery, who gives a shit?

          • kintsugi999 11/29/2013 at 4:48 pm #

            I agree with Jen on this, but I suffer from it myself. The fear of saying what’s truly on my mind and how it will affect others. But it’s good to say it – it’s healthy to let it out!

          • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 4:56 pm #

            It IS healthy to let out. Most of my friends have differing opinions than mine, but as long as they aren’t being a buttwipe, I don’t mind them expressing themselves.

          • daniheart21 11/29/2013 at 8:50 pm #

            Maybe you are right sweet Jen.

  21. E. 11/29/2013 at 1:35 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean about being brain-fried. I have a short story I’m trying to work on that would normally take me three days to write, but because NaBloPoMo has been sucking all the creativeness from my life force, it’s been going on a week now and I’m barely halfway through.
    As for what I do: I paint if I get really stuck, or I take my dog for a walk. Or I eat. I find that low blood sugar doesn’t do much for the creative processes. Or maybe I just like to eat.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 4:26 pm #

      Low blood sugar! Why didn’t I think of that? I guess I’ll have to suffer for my art, and eat pizza tonight.

      • kintsugi999 11/29/2013 at 4:47 pm #

        Don’t forget the ice cream..

      • E. 12/02/2013 at 7:17 am #

        Oh that sounds so terrible! :)

  22. sharlene777 11/29/2013 at 1:32 pm #

    You’re doing great JT; tough it out because it’s the right thing to do :) The right choices aren’t the east ones xoxo

    • sharlene777 11/29/2013 at 1:33 pm #

      easy ones lol

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 4:24 pm #

      Ain’t that the truth? I’ll just keep pluggin’ along! Glad to see you’ve been busy too!

  23. nobodysreadingme 11/29/2013 at 1:23 pm #

    I kind of missed the impact of NaBloPoMo. I blog every day except Sunday anyway (I sometimes succumb the too) so it’s just what I do. But it’s clearly not what you do, and it was a real challenge, and you met it, and you won the fight. Well done!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/29/2013 at 4:22 pm #

      I know there are some bloggers who like to blog every day, but it isn’t feasible for me. Between working full-time, my “real life” life and writing/commenting, it was all WAY too much for me. Kudos to you for being able to keep up with it.

      • nobodysreadingme 11/30/2013 at 1:15 am #

        I’m not rich, but one thing I do have plenty of is time. :-)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Group Therapy: November’s Top Comments « HACKER. NINJA. HOOKER. SPY. - 11/30/2013

    […] “Every single one of my bosses (excluding my current one) has been a nimrod. They’d make 250k+ a year but couldn’t figure out how to make a copy, or turn on the coffee machine.” –Jen […]

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