Been working on that the whole time? Nice little narrative? Beginning, middle, and end? Some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends? At the end your main character is richer from the experience? Yeah? Yeah?
Every mid-October, I get the urge to continue my “novel” — a task I have been attempting for years now, ever since my senior year of high school. It started out as a poorly-cobbled fanfiction of some obscure (but very engrossing) title called ShadowSteed, but morphed into something original since then. It’s had several incarnations, first as a spiral-bound, hand-written fic. I dont even know what happened to that sprial notebook. I think it got lost somewhere in the abyss of my teenage-self’s desk and never resurfaced.
Next, it appeared as a gathering of notes on odd scraps of paper (which, of course, I subsequently lost). Then, a roleplaying site that no one (including me) used, which was then re-written as a gathering of notes in a proper notebook. Oh, and there was the time I was going to turn it into a video game of the roleplaying genre. Finally, for 2009’s NaNo, I manage to squeak out four “chapters” of novel, which, really, can hardly be called such considering that they average a page and a half in Word. Then back to the drawing table in 2010 because oh-my-gosh-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing. Then in 2011, I decided, hey, I’m an artist, I’ll just MAKE A COMIC, except… I still didn’t have any idea what I was doing. Predictably, after a few ‘world-building’ exercises and one rough sketch later, the comic came to a screeching halt.
Since 2012 has been a year of a lot of changes for me, I figured I’m going to go ahead and give NaNo another go. I have a notebook — I prefer to write ideas down on paper first — and I have MS Word, and I have my first character’s mini-bio written up. A good start.
image by AdriOfTheDead @ tumblr
edit by someone on reddit
My problem, though, has always been staying motivated. I don’t know what happens — I can roleplay on a forum just fine, cranking out a couple of thousand words per post usually with no problem; but, every time NaNo rolls around, pffttttt. All of that, just out the window. I sit and stare at a blank document for a few minutes, maybe put a couple of words to virtual paper, then alt-tab into something else. At best, I play a couple of video games, eat some food, wander around the house, watch TV. At worse, the internet punches me in the face and when I come to it’s late and I need to go to bed.
I’ve tried various “stay motivated” techniques, ranging from having a devoted work area/time to using inspirational music mixes, but I can’t seem to stay on task very long unless I’m goofing off. There’s some sort of irony in that, I’m sure.
This year, I’m going to try distancing myself from my biggest distraction while trying to be productive: internet. Even when I’m playing video games, I constantly find myself tabbing over to check tumblr, or my RP forum. Not necessarily because I can’t live without them, but because they are a convenient distraction right at my fingertips. One click, or a press of a key, and shazam! All the adorable baby animals I can stomach before barfing rainbows.
I am Tomo. Tomo is me.
I don’t know if I can do it! I talk big now, but who knows where my motivation will be once NaNo actually gets here? It’s not so much that I get distracted as it is me getting … not bored, exactly, or discouraged, but more like I lose my steam when I very visibly have a quota to work with, rather than just writing because it’s fun. It becomes a chore, a task, and the enjoyment kind of gets sucked out of it when, at the end of the day, I have to make sure I’m meeting my daily word quota and putting words to paper.
It’s draining, and it’s a large part of the reason that I drop NaNo every month. I can’t seem to stay motivated when I’m counting every word that I write. Is the chapter long enough, is it too short, am I just using words to fill up my daily goal?
Finding a balance is so tricky, and so exhausting. Not to mention that I have a lot of backstory and lore I want to write, and that gets draining too.
So tell me, what do you do to keep on-task and motivated? Any tips, tricks, or ideas to stay on task even when the going gets tough?
How do you write for NaNo? Do you plan ahead, make outlines, extensive plots? Or are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer, and let the story tell itself?
Let me know! :D