Two Ways to Fire Up Your Writing Brain for NaNoWriMo

Typewriter2It’s lovely that thousands upon thousands of people all over the world are participating in the National Novel Writing Month of November (popularly known as NaNoWriMo). It’s a brilliant concept that has obviously appealed to many aspiring writers, and I know many professional writers who use it to shame themselves into pursuing the creative work that’s always getting shunted for day jobs. There’s something extremely appealing about all that writing energy being exercised worldwide, and many are able to write 50,000 words in November, which surely feels absolutely amazing. So what are 2 things you can do to prep and fire up your writing brain for NaNoWriMo?

ONE: Choose A Topic That Excites You

Your neurons construct elaborate networks in response to frequent cognitive activity, such as writing. The more these neurons are fired up, the more they wire together, formulating a complex, multilayered web of synapses that grow stronger and more complex with use. It’s the practice of firing up those neurons that causes them to increase their outreach and to create new and more unique connections. You have writing genius at your disposal, but you have to make a conscious decision to use it to its fullest advantage, and one great way to do that is to choose a topic that really gets your juices flowing, something that has a certain urgency, something you’re somewhat obsessed with, something that’s important to you.

The passion for what you’re writing about will ignite those neurons, initiating the sort of “global excitation” that spurs original thought, surprising and unique connections, and the desire to re-create those feelings. Basically passion energizes your brain, gets it fired up, and makes it sharper than usual. Writing about something you feel strongly about provides the neuronal juice that will make writing a pleasure and will likely result in your best work.

If you have to write about things that aren’t deeply and personally important to you, then get excited about the craft and art of writing, and be passionate about your abilities to tell a good story and what your resourceful brain brings to the table. If you can’t love the topic, love what you do, and help your brain feel excited about it.

And if all that doesn’t do the trick, at least choose something that grips you like a vise.

TWO. Commit in Writing

When you identify the primary motivations related to your current project, journal about it, focusing on details, passions, and fears. By writing it down, you are programming your cerebral cortex and your hippocampus to remember that the story you are creating is important and that you are determined to complete it. You are also alerting your cortex that you’d like help anticipating and resolving problems and your “sleeping” subconscious that you’re asking it to offer its import. Before you begin brainstorming, read your entries to fire up all the neurons and synapses needed to do your best work.

Tomorrow I’ll reveal more suggestions to help you prep your writer’s brain for NaNoWriMo—and whatever writing projects you have on tap.

Happy Writing!

2 thoughts on “Two Ways to Fire Up Your Writing Brain for NaNoWriMo

  1. Hi Susan,
    I am now a retired English teacher from Perth, Western Australia. I wanted to write to you, and let you know how wonderful your book, ‘Firing Up..” has been for me.
    I have always wanted to write, but teaching was far too busy, so I decided to enter retirement with a goal in mind: writing, writing…and more writing!
    I am hoping that your book will assist me eventually, as I am terribly reluctant to sit at my desk each day; something seems to pull me away, even though I have a strong desire to put ‘pen to paper’.
    If there are any suggestions you have, I would be most grateful.
    Once, again, my sincere thanks for a terrific read.
    Kindest regards,


    • Hi Michael,

      Well, I’m delighted you’ve discovered “Fire Up Your Writing Brain,” and the blog. Hopefully, both will inspire you to keep exploring the new world of writing. Motivating oneself to write is often a challenge, but at your stage, what I’d recommend most is keeping it playful and fun. Just tell your inner skeptic that you’re just playing, just goofing around with words. This helps any tendency to judge how you’re spending your time. Anyone who wants to write well has a learning curve, and those inner critics can strike a death knell to enthusiasm. Find ways to make writing fun. Reward your brain for all writing sessions so it will begin to link pleasure to writing!

      Good Luck and let us know how it goes!



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