Hello fellow bookworms 🖊 I recently asked you guys on TWITTER what post you would like to see and 75% of the people wanted to see Tips for the stressed Writer, which was a very personal topic that I had a spur of the moment idea for, as it reflected my current situation. Since then the title has changed a bit, because it fit way better. I’m therefoe going to talk about How to Write when you’re in a bad mood, as that reflects my issue way better. So if I wasn’t clear this isn’t a post about how to write when you’re busy, you can go check out SOPHIE’s excellent post about the issues that I highly recommend as she has some amazing tops!
Instead this post is all about my NaNo experience this year which is vastly different from the years before, as I’m struggling so much more and I’m doing things inherent too, with outlining instead of writing, which takes up lots more of my creativity as I cannot simply follow my outline. Generally, I have been in a bad writing mood all of NaNo that is also related to how stressful university has been and how settling into my flat was difficult. I still managed to hit my wordcount and I’m not behind, but IÄm struggling so much every single day, I have to put in so MUCH MORE effort into writing like I used to all other 5 times I have done NaNo. Therefore, I wanted to share with you today what has helped me write even though I was in a pretty bad mood for the most time. For me ‘bad’ meant that I was often nervous, anxious, tired and generally overwhelmed by everything that was going on in my life. So if you feel the same, maybe these tips can help you write, because if there is something that completely kills any writing motivation, it’s being anxious for me. I need to feel somewhat safe and comfortable to be truly creative.
All my NaNoWriMo 2018 Posts
- How to survive NaNoWrimo // My Tips
- Writing Motivation // NaNo Posts and Videos
- NaNoWriMo Week 1+2 Update // Getting back into writing
Have ambience sounds playing in the background
I feel like this tip especially helps if you live alone and want some background noise to fill the silence! I often cannot write when I have music on that contains lyrics as they tend to distract me from my writing, so this is the perfect alternative for me, as there are only sounds and no lyrics. I also find that ambience sounds are very relaxing and a great way to calm you and focus your mind at the same time, so you can concentrate better on what you’re doing and are not feeling quite so stressed.
My personal recommendation here are the ASMR Rooms on Youtube as I have recently grown to enjoy their videos a lot – they have lots of Harry Potter themed ambience sounds that often play for an hour or two, which is just the perfect time window in my opinion! I also know of the Ambient Mixer, that lets you choose mixes of ambience sounds by other users that you can also customize to your liking! This Spa Day Mix is one of my personal favorites! There are lots of categories to choose from too! I haven’t tried Nosili myself, but some people find it super helpful and it’s also available as an App, so that’s great!
Switch to different writing programs!!!
A change of things on your screen can help wonders to fight demotivation and frustration, which is something I have recently figured out for myself and it has honestly helped me so much! I was pretty much sure I wouldn’t reach my word count for the day, but then I simply switched to a different writing program (one that I has loved in the past -> Q10) and boom suddenly I was motivated again and went at writing with a fresh mind! I used Google Docs and Microsoft Word for writing for the majority of November, so switching to Q10 has been such a great idea, as the font and colors are different and it operates in full screen! All distractions are therefore blocked out and I feel like my motivation has come out again!
Conclusion: Try to go away from the program you use every day and try out a new one (preferably with a full screen option to limit distractions, as I’ll try to do anything but writing, if I’m in a bad mood)!
A list of Possible writing programs you could use
Let me know if you’d like a more in-depth post about writing programs!
- Microsoft Word 🌺 What I used for my writing, you can usually get this one for free if you’re a student, so maybe check out if your university offers it!
- Google Docs 🌺 Saves your documents online, so no fear of losing your work, easily accessible literally everywhere, so you can write on your phone if you have downtime. Doesn’t show your word count so you’re not tempted to check it all the time.
- Scrivener 🌺 I don’t personally use this for writing, but it allows you to have everything all in one place and also allows you to set specific Targets that track your progress! [This one isn’t free, you have to pay for it!]
- Q10 🌺 An old favorite. Is very easy to download and also free of charge. You don’t even have to install it, as there is a portable version that you can use! It is super simple and operates in full screen, you can change the font and colors too!
- Focus Writer 🌺 I used this for Camp NaNo once and it’s a nice alternative to Q10 that looks a bit nicer and offers you the chance to change your background to something pretty. Also tracks your streaks, aka when you write, so that’s cool!
- Written.Kitten 🌺 Online website that gives you a picture of a cute kitten every 100 words you write! Uses local storage so your work doesn’t get lost if there is an issue and the side reloads. (But be careful, it once didn’t work and the previous work as gone. so best be safe and back up your work)
Take breaks/the day off if necessary
If nothing is working it’s best to take a break to recharge with some self-care and doing something else that isn’t writing related. There are days when you just cannot seem to be able to get yourself motivated to write and instead of forcing it, it’s best to take a break or you’ll get even more overwhelmed and blocked.
Always try to get yourself to write, but there is a difference between a little pressure to get you going and too much pressure that stifles you and leads to writer’s blog. It’s important to listen to your body and mind about what you currently need. I often feel guilty for taking a break, but in the long run this is much more useful than burning out because you’re forcing yourself to write when you don’t feel good. It’s also okay to quit if NaNo/writing isn’t working at the moment! I’m very bad at quitting things like that myself, but consider your current situation and figure out if the stress would be more manageable if you allowed yourself to take a break from NaNo.
Try to be kind to yourself and change perspective
This one is super hard and I find it difficult to do this myself, but maybe at least try to not give yourself a hard time if you struggle with writing. Instead of being “I’m so horrible for not writing today” try to think more along the lines of “It’s okay today wasn’t as great, but there is always a new chance tomorrow” Instead of telling yourself “Ugh why should I even start writing, I’ll only just fail” be like “I’ll open my laptop now and at least try to write a bit”. This takes practice, but often I beat myself up so much and giving yourself a break can be really healthy!
Therefore, I try to abandon the ‘all or nothing’ mindset I love to have. Just writing a bit (even if you don’t reach your word count for the day) is miles better than just writing nothing, because you’re convinced it’s no use anyways.
Create a relaxing atmosphere
If I’m in a bad mood I really need a relaxing, positive atmosphere. That often means cleaning my flat/room/desk because chaos kind of reflects my mood so I need things to be clean and not feel like there is a mess everywhere. I generally like things orderly, so a good, clean work environment can do wonders for me.
For me a relaxing atmosphere means: cleaning (like I already mentioned) as well as having something relaxing on in the background (see: ambience sounds). When I’m at home I often need to work in my room as the living room is loud and full of distractions, that are bad for my motivation. Therefore, I need the quiet with a bit of my sounds on. I also like to wear comfortable clothes and maybe put on a candle, have hot tea near me (but not too near, as I murdered my last laptop with coffee), all things to make me feel all nice and good!
Write your words early
So I’m 500% not a morning person, but if you can try to write as early as possible. That doesn’t workm out for everyone obviously, as lots of people have classes or work that starts very early (if you’re a morning person you could try writing a bit before you head off, but I could never do that ), but the weekend mornings could be the alternative here. As I’m studying I have a bit more luck with my mornings, as I only have 2 classes starting at 8am (but that’s already too much, that’s how much I’m not a morning person). I always thought that my best time would be writing in the afternoons between 2 and 5, but recently I have reconsidered that.
For me personally (! – because I know that there are people who write in the evenings/generally later and are 100% happy with that, because that’s whne they work best) writing in the morning has worked so much better. Just doung my daily writing early (before lunch) has really helped me relax and not stress out during the day when I was doing other things (like uni stuff) first and the only had time for writing later. I work the worst at writing in the evening, because I’m so stressed as the day is already over and I haven’t done my writing yet, so it’s obvious that getting things done early allows me to relax a lot more and don’t feel so stressed out about NaNo. The mornings are typically when you’re the most energized (even if it doesn’t feel like that half of the time), so I have recently really used that energy. I get up at 9am if I can, so it’s not that I’m up early, but I get my writing done before 12am now when itÄ’s possihble and that’s honestly setting up the day to be more relaxing.
What do you do when you’re in a bad (writing) mood? 🖊