How To Stay Motivated During NaNoWriMo

A writer’s relationship with motivation is a tenuous one. One day we’re filled with the creative spirit, the next we never want to look at another word again—and that’s during a normal month. During NaNoWriMo, everything is intensified: our word count goals, our love-hate relationship with our stories, and the natural fluctuation of our creativity and motivation.

How do we keep our motivation going when we’ve been going all out for half a month already? Here are a few tricks I’ve tried out to boost my motivation levels and get me through the mid-NaNoWriMo blues.

1. Writing Buddies

Whether they’re people you know personally or virtually, get yourself a writing buddy who can hold you accountable. I have my fellow co-founders, Cristina and Taylor, to keep me going, plus a host of other writers on Twitter who are there to cheer me on (and give me a butt-kicking when I start slacking). If you don’t have a writing buddy already or want to find more, look no further.

2. Incentive

Besides being brilliant cheerleaders and stern coaches, your writing buddies can also offer a great incentive to write more. One way is to make a #NaNoWager with them. A NaNoWager, quite simply, is an agreement that you’ll do something embarrassing or unpleasant if you don’t reach 50,000 words (or your own target) by the end of the month.

I have a couple of NaNoWagers and, boy, do they motivate me to write. Let’s put it this way: if I don’t reach 50k by November 30th, I’ll be wearing some very embarrassing clothes for the week afterwards and posting pictures to Twitter, along with some excerpts of my awful early writing attempts on the Sprint Shack.

3. Story Upheaval

Sometimes our motivation to write leaves us because we lose interest in our stories, encounter writer’s block or write ourselves into tight corners. The story is causing us a problem, which makes the prospect of writing as attractive as being trapped in a cage with a man-eating llama.

When this happens, sometimes the only thing that can save us is a story upheaval. Your story’s lost your interest? Introduce an element that spices things back up! Use a writing dare or maybe a writing prompt to spark your imagination, reignite your plot, and rekindle your love of your story. Same for writer’s block—throw something unexpected into the story and watch as your imagination grinds back into gear as it tries to deal with its implications.

What happens if you’ve written yourself into an untenable corner? Write yourself out. Now, that could be through coming up with a creative solution, but if that eludes you and time is running out, there are a couple of options: 1) jump on ahead and figure out the ‘how’ later, or 2) backtrack to the point where the story last worked and rewrite from there.

If you do rewrite, it doesn’t mean everything you’re cutting out should be deleted. Keep hold of it, include it in your NaNoWriMo word count if you want (because, hey, you still wrote it during November, even if it doesn’t make the final cut), and maybe take the good bits from it to use in your new rewrite. Then carry on writing from there.

4. Mix Things Up

Our interest and motivation may turn stale when our writing days are monotonous. If your sessions follow the same routine, try shaking things up a bit. Dedicate a whole day to writing if you can and give yourself an ambitious, yet achievable goal. Take part in some word sprints. Go to a write-in. Sometimes varying your writing routine is all you need to revive your dying motivation to write.


How do you deal with loss of motivation? Tell us your motivation-resurrection stories in the comments below!