Swoon Author Kristen Orlando: NaNoWriMo Survival Tips

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NaNo is in full swing and I am so impressed with all of you who are participating. Seriously, you are all magic. It’s intimidating to sit down at a computer and get motivated to write words, let alone 50,000 of them! Staring at pages and pages of white on your laptop can be super overwhelming. At least that is how I felt when I was sitting down to write Book 2 in the Black Angel Chronicles.

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But nothing feels better than actually putting the ideas floating in your head down on paper (or in most of our cases, on screen). So here is how I got myself motivated to write my second novel.

1) Not feeling inspired? Too bad. Butt in seat + actual typing = progress. 

I wish I could tell you that every single time I sit down at my computer, I’m 100% inspired and motivated to write. But it just doesn’t work that way! Sometimes, I cannot wait to sit down and write that next chapter or conclude a confrontational scene I’ve been working on. But other times, it’s a struggle. When I was writing Book 2, I made myself write every single day whether I was in the mood or not. It’s amazing though how once you get going, the motivation and inspiration does come and you forget about the shows on your DVR that were calling to you before the words started flowing!

2) Turn off your WiFi. Seriously.

10 years ago, I was one of the most focused people on the planet. When I was a television producer, nothing could distract me. I would zero in on my show and literally do nothing but write until it was finished (I would force myself to not eat my lunch until 2:30 or 3 when the show was finally done. It was my weird little reward!). Now, there are a million distractions all at our fingertips and I too have fallen down the very dark hole of social media. So when I really need to write, I turn off my phone and my WiFi for a set period of time so I’m not even tempted to check in on what is going on in my virtual world. So next time you sit down at your computer, turn all devices off for at least an hour or two. It’s amazing how much you can get done without distractions. And hey, all of those conversations can wait!  

3) Push through writer’s block.

 Claire Danes crying

So been there. And writer's block can definitely make me want to break out into a Claire Danes crying face. But here are some of my best practices for combating it:  

a)  Music: When I cannot find the right words, I try to put myself in the scene with my characters by playing music that I imagine would be on in the background during their conversation. Or I even take it a step further and think about the song I’d want playing in the cinematic version of this scene. It gets me in the right frame of mind to write.

b)  TV/Film Clips: Sometimes, you just need a few minutes of YouTube to get yourself where you need to be. If I’m writing a romantic scene, for example, I’ll look up videos of some of my favorite One True Parings. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked up montages of the looks between Mulder and Scully. It’s embarrassing. But seeing what I have in my head acted out helps me zero in on what I should be writing.

c) Books: I find when I’m completely blocked, picking up a book I love and just reading random passages can inspire me. Seeing another author’s brilliance reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to create something as well. And then I get my butt in gear and write. 

4) Find a motivational writing buddy.

While I was writing my second book, one of the people who absolutely kept me going was fellow 2017 debut author Kayla Olson (her book The Sandcastle Empire comes out in June). We’d text each other literally every single day with our goals for the day, the word count we were hoping to hit, chapters we were hoping to complete, and then we kept each other accountable by reporting on our progress. If I found my mind wandering and wanting to read a book or watch a movie, I knew I’d have to report back on my lack of progress to Kayla, and I didn’t want to! I wanted to hit that goal. I honestly don’t think I could have written this book as quickly as I did without a motivational/accountability buddy cheering me on!

5) In the zone? Keep going!

Happy Lady

There is nothing better than hitting your writing stride. When I get in the zone, I stay there for as long as I possibly can. I tell my husband (very lovingly…hopefully) to leave me alone, I don’t answer the phone, I push back lunch plans, whatever I can do to stay there until I reach my goal. That super magic writing zone is so hard to achieve so when you get there, don’t break it! I write and write and write until I hit a blissful wall of exhaustion!

Good luck to all of you taking part of NaNo. Seriously, I’m awestruck by you all!  I cannot wait to read some of your amazing creations. You’ve totally got this.


Author spotlight

Kristen Orlando

Kristen Orlando attended Kenyon College and graduated with a B.A. in English. She also briefly studied writing at the University ...

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