June 23, 2022 by Sarra Cannon
A Writer's Life | Writing Tips
Can you believe that we’re officially halfway through 2022? There have been so many things I’ve wanted to accomplish this year, but between traveling, buying and setting up a new home, running my Heart Breathings courses, there just hasn’t been enough time. But that doesn’t mean that the back half of the year will be the same!
If you’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month before, then maybe you’re like me. 3 times a year my brain switches into a totally different gear (during Camp NaNo – April and July – and regular NaNoWriMo in November). It knows that for the next 30-31 days, my primary focus work-wise is writing. And boy do I have a lofty goal for this round of Camp!
In today’s video, I’m sharing 5 tips to write more during Camp NaNoWriMo, how to sign up, and walking you through my free Camp NaNo workbook. To download this workbook, sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of the page. You’ll also gain access to my Heart Breathings Resource Library that’s chalk full of awesome workbooks and writing tools. I hope you’ll check it out!
I know this one sounds pretty self-explanatory, but sometimes it’s best to get back to basics. By having a dedicated plan in place, I know that I’ll better be able to commit myself to what I want to do daily.
Each evening, I’m going to write down in my notebook exactly when and where I want to write, and what scenes I plan on tackling. I’ve decided to try setting up a new routine and writing daily from 8-10am. My primary reason for choosing this time of day is because my thoughts won’t be cluttered with emails and other tasks that need to be completed. I want my mind to be clear and fresh. I’d like to write 3000 words a day (for a total of approximately 60,000 words for the month), so if two hours isn’t enough to accomplish this, I’ll adjust from there.
If you’ve been around in the Hearties community for a while, you’ll know that I’m super visual. I’m an out of sight, out of mind kind of person so I need things front and center to remind me what my tasks and goals are. Hence why I put my Kanban boards on the wall and use bright Post-It notes for my tasks.
One thing I’ve decided to do to keep my writing a priority is use a daily word progress tracker that I’m going to tape to the front of my office door so that each morning, I’ll be able to see how much I’ve already written and what I need to focus on the most that day. If I keep the tracker in a notebook or planner, I won’t always remember to check it.
Another tactic I’m going to use is one I learned from reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’m going to fill a small bowl with pretty rocks or pebbles. Each piece represents 100 words. Whenever I hit that word goal, I’ll transfer one pebble to another bowl. I’ve also created a fun, clear label that says “You Can Do It!” that I stuck to the bottom of the empty bowl. Every time I place a stone inside, that message will remind me to persevere. Then, once each piece is in the second bowl, the message on the inside of the first will say “Yay! You Did It!”. This visual encouragement will definitely push me to keep going because I’ll want to see the bottom of bowl #1.
In my experience, having outside accountability is a huge help to me when writing. So, I reached out to writer friend of mine and we’re planning to meet up at least once a week to write together. That way we can be each others’ cheerleaders. I’ll also turn to my Heart Breathings Writing Community on Facebook and my Discord server, Sarra Cannon’s Coven. Both are full of wonderful people who gather together to do writing sprints. Everyone is incredibly supportive and it fills my heart to be part of not only one, but two groups of like-minded people.
I’d love for you to join these communities (if you haven’t already). You can check out the Heart Breathings Writing Community here, or join my Discord server here. There are many channels (including one specifically for Accountability) within that talk about all sorts of topics (not just writing or reading).
I’m also going to be posting daily Reels on my Heart Breathings Instagram account. I’ll be using #campnanodiaries to keep everyone updated with my daily word count and just how things are going in general. I’d love for you to join me with these daily accountability posts!
Another thing that James Clear speaks of in Atomic Habits is how if you want to start a new habit, you need to make it easy, otherwise you won’t want to do it regularly. After brainstorming what I could do to make writing easier, I came up with a couple of ideas.
The first is that I’ve found a brand of Bluetooth keyboards on Amazon called Jelly Comb. The beauty of this keyboard is that it has the capability to link up to two different devices. I purchased two of them and I’ve placed them in areas around the house that don’t have a computer. Since I write in Google Docs, I’ve linked the keyboards up to both my phone and my iPad so that I can use them with either. This way, no matter where I am in the house, I can write.
Another thing I’m going to do is every day when I’m done with my daily words (yes, 3000!), I’m going to create an index card that lists out the scenes and the ideas that I have for the following day. This way, I don’t have to think about ‘What do I need to write today?’ when I sit down each morning. It’s all ready for me to go.
I found it very hard to be motivated or creative over this past year because we were moving around so much. Then, when we finally bought our home, it took time to get settled. We had a lot going on in our lives, which made it harder for me to really focus on writing. So over the past few months, I’ve beeng doing things that have fueled my soul and creativity: cleaning the house, decorating my offices, gaming and spending more time with the kids without my phone nearby. I’ve also really been enjoying being outside or just feeling the grass under my feet. Simple things like that are extremely powerful.
I’ve also realized that being cognizant of my inner thoughts and feelings is also really important for my motivation. I’m currently working on Book 12 in my Shadow Demons Saga. Book 11 came out a year ago, and going a year between books is not something I ever wanted to do. Any time I feel negative thoughts start to creep into my mind, I shut them down immediately and give myself some grace and encouragement by telling myself that I’m doing great, rather than getting mad at myself. So even if I get way behind, I’m going to focus on loving and appreciating myself and the joy of writing rather than the hustle of it.
Lastly, a great motivation (and the most fun) is to pre-plan rewards for yourself for when you hit your word count goal. I have a drawer-full of Tokidoki surprise boxes and each time I hit my daily word count goal, I get to open one. Many of you know how much I love Hello Kitty and Tokidoki, so having these fun treasures waiting for me to open is a huge motivation for me. Then I get to display them all over my offices and they remind me of all the hard work I put into writing my books.
There you have it! My 5 tips on how to write more. They will obviously work in general, but I wanted to share this with you since Camp NaNo starts at the end of next week.
Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter below to snag my Camp NaNo workbook (which contains the word tracker I mentioned plus a few other fun surprises) and join my communities! I promise you’ll love them as much as I do.
I can’t wait to crush Camp NaNo with you!
I have been self-publishing my books since 2010, and in that time, I've sold well over half a million copies of my books. I'm not a superstar or a huge bestseller, but I have built an amazing career that brings me great joy. Here at Heart Breathings, I hope to help you find that same level of success. Let's do this.
Happy Camp Nano! I confirmed my email but the Camp NanoWriMo download hasn’t been received. Is there a waiting period? I hope you are feeling better, and thank you for the generous offer of the workbook.
You should have received an email thanking you for signing up for my newsletter once you submitted your email. From there, click the link to the Resource Library and you’ll find the workbook in a folder called Camp NaNo July 2022. I’m so sorry if this was unclear in my last email. I appreciate you bringing this up so I can improve going forward.
Let me know if that works!
Saw your video on YouTube. Thanks for sharing your tips for Camp! I appreciate your mentioning those Bluetooth keyboards. I’m going to check them out because I never really thought about being able to write long form with just a phone. A portable keyboard would be very helpful in me being able to get some writing done when I’m away from my computer. This is my first time doing Camp Nano and it’s all been a lot to digest.
So glad you found it helpful!