Hints and Tips to Get Into the Writing Habit
Hints and Tips to Get Into the Writing Habit
Maybe you’re looking for ways to improve your writing style. Or perhaps you’re hoping to create a routine that supports you putting pen to paper regularly (or fingers to keyboard depending on your preference). Sometimes you simply need a little inspiration and motivation, and if that’s the case, this is for you.
I’ve dabbled with writing for many years and written professionally throughout my career. I have also written and edited newsletters for charities, advertising calendar for magazines, websites, blogs, Instagram content, and my own journal and regular content for BooknBrunch. I know that I am happiest when I’m writing; it’s cathartic, releasing daily stresses. Still, I’ve never been able to commit to doing it every day.
While searching online, I came across National Novel Writing Month, a specific challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel during the 30 days of November – also referred to as NaNoWriMo. I’ve never really had the ambition to write a book, and I began to question whether I could do it, even if I wanted to. Each November, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide make a determined effort to write their books. Could I do that? Could you do that?
A standard typed manuscript with 12pt font and one-inch margins contains about 300 words. Therefore, a 50,000-word novel would be approximately 165 pages, which is 5.5 pages per day if you write every day during November. Looking at those figures, it seems much more achievable.
I’m not skilled in novel writing and have never completed a creative writing programme. To be honest, I don’t even know where to begin writing a novel. Below are some tips that I’ve compiled for myself, and maybe you could also take inspiration from my challenge – the NaNoWriMo challenge! I’m inspired by the fact that Water for Elephants began as a rough draft in November, and this year, I’m making a commitment to give it a try.
Find an inspiring place to write. You don’t have to lock yourself away in a quiet room. You may prefer to write with ambient noise around you, in a park, a cafe or a gallery, for example. People around you may inspire characters; the little girl dressed in a red dress. Situations you observe may drive your plot or bring a twist; she ran but missed her bus and had to walk home. Smells can also stimulate you; the smell of fresh ground coffee reminded her of Dan and the lazy Sunday mornings they spent together.
Always carry a pen and paper. You never know when the writing bug might strike, so be prepared. Sitting on the train, eating lunch or waiting to attend an appointment may present a writing opportunity. It’s best to capture it at the moment as it’s likely you’ll forget much of the detail by the time you get back home. Believe me, I’m speaking from experience.
Plan it. Sketch out a few ideas. You don’t need a complete start-to-end journey of your novel, but it’s helpful to have a plot and think about your characters before diving right in. Scribble your notes on paper or use a software package, whatever suits your style. NaNoWriMo even provides NaNo Prep, a downloadable guide to help you on your way.
Write. I know that sounds very simple, but now that you have everything in place, you really do need to sit down and begin to write. Open your mind and let those words flow. If you have writers’ block then when not seek out a pep talk? NaNoWriMo has some great Pep Talks, inspirational letters from well-known authors offering encouraging words and advice to get you on track.
Whether you complete your novel or the challenge isn’t really important. What’s important is that you have explored your creative side, had fun and learned something from the exercise. You might have developed something that could be considered a short story and perhaps look to get it published. You may take lines from what you’ve written and turn them into poetry. You may be inspired to write to a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time. You may just have found an uber cool local café that you want to go back and visit, or perhaps you’re more interested in the barista! Whatever it is, it’s a gift. Take a moment to enjoy the experience.
NaNoWriMo is more than a novel-writing challenge; it’s a non-profit social network that believes in the transformational power of creativity. Its aim is to provide the framework and motivation to help people find their voices, achieve creative ambitions and build new worlds. Their website engages more than 1,000,000 writers, hosts writing events from Mexico City to Seoul with the help of many hundreds of volunteers and partner organizations. Why not check them out today and see how they can inspire you?
With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.
A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications.
Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli