NaNoWriMo Week 1: How to Find the Time

Well, I am up to my eyeballs in NaNoWriMo and it’s only day 3. After a productive write-in on Saturday, a somewhatNaNo Logo grueling coffee-shop stint on Sunday, and an early morning of writing the bare minimum today, I gave my “So, You Want to Write a Novel (in a month)?” presentation for the second time tonight. A couple weeks ago I shared some tips for how to prepare for NaNo. Now that we’re starting out, I’m going to make some suggestions for what you might cut out of your life to make time for noveling this month.

  • Mindless Web Browsing – I think we’re all guilty of clicking “just one more link” before we move onto more productive pursuits. Don’t let mindless web browsing (including clicking all over the NaNo website!) steal your writing time this month! Set clear goals for your online time, such as: “I’m going to check my email and then log off,” or “I’m going to be online for 15 minutes, tops,” and then stick to them. If you’re especially prone to internet distraction, you might want to consider disconnecting completely when you should be writing. I just do this manually, but you can also use Freedom software.
  • TV – TV is the clickbait of the past. IT NEVER STOPS. If you’ve got it on to watch one show, another show will follow it — one that is designed to keep you watching. If you have certain shows that you can’t bear to miss, consider recording them and setting aside time to watch them later. Then you won’t get sucked into whatever happens to be on next.
  • Housework – So, I prefer to work in a clean environment, but I let the dishes pile up in November. I have a threshold of about three weeks when it comes to a messy house — meaning I can put up with it for that long before it’s so distracting that I can’t do anything else. That three-week threshold will get me almost through the entire month! Seriously, is it really THAT important that your floors be shiny in November?
  • Lunch breaks – If you work a traditional job that allows a 1-hour lunch break, consider staying “on-site” and bringing a bagged lunch from home. Eating it will only take you about half an hour, which gives you another half hour to write. Every word helps!
  • Your paying job – Okay, I actually DON’T advocate giving up your paying job for NaNoWriMo. But consider taking advantage of benefits you might have. I have a friend who used a vacation day each Wednesday during November to stay home and write. I once took a vacation day on November 30 so I could stay home and finish my novel.
  • Waiting for inspiration – You do NOT have time to wait for inspiration during NaNoWriMo. (With that said, if it happens your way, grab that sucker and don’t let go!) You have to schedule time to write, whether you feel like it or not. And here’s a secret: when you go back to revise what you’ve written, you can’t tell the difference between what you wrote when you were “inspired” and what you wrote when you were slogging through. It FEELS better to write while inspired, but it doesn’t necessarily produce better writing.

Enjoy that “beginner’s energy,” and good luck!