4 Time Management Hacks to Get You Through NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again—blustery days, icy mornings, and colorful leaves drifting through the air. Oh—and novel writing time.

As October is blowing into November, writers everywhere are battening down the hatches and preparing to hunker down and pound madly away at their keyboards for thirty days in hopes of reaching 50,000 words. Maybe you’re part of that crew. If so, I’ve got valuable information for you.

How Outlining Can Save You Time in Your Writing

Do you run on a tight schedule? Between taking classes, working a day-job, keeping up with errands, and struggling to make time for your writing, you may feel a little overwhelmed. Well guess what? You’re not alone.

Being a writer in a fast-paced, distraction-fraught world is tough. It takes discipline, focus, and grit. You know your time is precious, and you do your best to snag every little bit of extra you can horde away. Time is to the busy writer what gold is to a dragon; the problem is, we’re all-too-easily robbed.

What I Learned from Failing NaNoWriMo

In May of this year, I decided to attempt to write a novel in a month. I knew it was a long way before November, but my story was demanding to be written—immediately. So I went for it, and I failed.

I know people who have won NaNoWriMo three times, four times; heck, some of them five times! Surely I could do it once. So on May 1st, I sat down to begin my one month noveling adventure, only for it to come screeching to a halt roughly around the 25k mark. However, despite not reaching the illustrious goal of 50,000 words, I don’t consider my NaNo experience a complete failure for two reasons.

Work Life Balance: Writing on a Busy Schedule

If you were here with me last week, I told you about my NaNo adventure—writing a novel in a month—and why I decided to undertake such a task. Today, I want to talk a little about what I learned during the first week of my noveling endeavor.

writing on a busy schedule

As creatives, we sometimes struggle with maintaining a work-life balance—particularly when we impose deadlines upon ourselves and our work. Don’t get me wrong, deadlines can be helpful, magical even, when it comes to kickstarting your creativity, but we can’t let ourselves forget the value of margin.

Why I Decided to Write a Novel in a Month

If you’re a writer, you may have heard of NaNoWriMo (also known as National Novel Writing Month), where authors sprint to fifty-thousand words in just thirty days. If you’re not a writer, you’re probably wondering what possessed me to do something so stupid.

NaNo

NaNoWriMo usually takes place in November, but halfway through April, I decided that I needed to write a novel now. I was tired of waiting for inspiration to strike from somewhere in the great beyond, so at the beginning of May, I did something I haven’t done in years: I just sat down and started writing.

10 Tricks to Motivate Your Writing When Things Get Tough

Hey! Guess what time it is? You know, that time of year where writers everywhere take on an extra measure of absurdity and attempt to write a novel in one month. That’s fifty-thousand words, folks. In thirty days. Sound like a challenge?

blog-light-bulb

I’m actually not doing NaNoWriMo. Shocker, huh? But I do have a few tips for those of you who’ve decided to take the plunge. Even if you’re not doing NaNo, sometimes it’s nice to have some tricks up your sleeve when it comes to lack of motivation.

7 Tips for Surviving NaNo – by Irie Odessa

My good friend and fellow OYAN alumni, Irie Odessa shares some great tips from her experiences with writing a novel in a month–and surviving.

***

When the month of November approaches, most people think about turkey dinners, family gatherings, and Black Friday. However, writers tend to forget all of those things, because November is National Novel Writing Month – most often called NaNoWriMo, or sometimes the Month of Insane Writing Madness.

What is NaNoWriMo? It’s a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days or less. That’s about 1700 words a day, oftentimes more, due to the fact that it’s difficult to write when you’re expected to socialize over the holidays. It’s not helpful for everyone, but for some – myself included – it’s a lifesaver when it comes to actually finishing novels.

I’ve “won” (everyone who finishes wins, so it’s not really winning so much as completing) NaNoWriMo four years running, and recently finished my first Camp NaNo, the summer version of the challenge held in April and July. During this most recent writing frenzy, I actually finished the 50,000 words in two weeks.

It’s difficult – writing lots of words very quickly without having time to look back at them – but it’s worth it. I’m going to list seven of the tips I’ve discovered over the years that lead to high wordcounts in short timeframes.

  1. Music. For me, I can’t write in the middle of everyday noises. However, it’s impossible to escape them in my house, so listening to loud music in my headphones drowns out the general clamor of the family and lets my mind focus on my story.
  2. Change of Scenery. I’m unable to write if I’m in one place the entire time. My bedroom’s great, but after a few days, I’m sick of it and my mind tends to wander away from the story and towards tumblr and Pinterest and all those other time wasting websites. It can be as simple as moving your laptop to the living room, dining room, or basement. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, the local library or your favorite coffee shop can be great places to write. Also, if you get any opportunities to physically leave your house for a time, like housesitting, take them. It’s much easier to write when you’re totally isolated with nobody distracting you.
  3. Outlining. I had no outline for my first novel. I had a little bit of an outline for my second, as I’d been trying to write it for ten months previously. My third was totally as-it-came, and handwritten due to my schedule at the time. For my fourth, I had an outline in my head, but nothing solid. I finished them all, but with the exception of the third one (which was written in journal form and I’d never intended to have a plot anyways), the storylines had fallen away to nothing. A simple outline with just the basic events that need to happen will help a lot.
  4. Freedom from the Outline. Feel free to deviate from your outline if it’s slowing you down. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write like the wind, and anything that slows your creativity should be trashed.
  5. Spreadsheets. With my Camp NaNo Novel, I made a spreadsheet with the descriptive titles of my 42 planned chapters. I had a column for wordcounts, and used AutoSum to bring the total down to the bottom. That way, since I had individual documents for each chapter and didn’t just have the one giant document, I could easily keep track of my total word count and where I was in the plot. Character spreadsheets are great, as well. Making a chart of your main character’s names, ages, physical descriptions, and other points that may be important to remember can be very helpful when you described Johnny six chapters ago and have forgotten if his eyes were blue or green.
  6. Turning off the WiFi. I usually don’t, because I enjoy writing best in short spurts with small internet breaks. But on occasion, like when I have a goal of writing ten thousand words in six hours, even brief internet breaks every few hundred words greatly increase the time it takes to get the words written.
  7. Take breaks. Seriously. After writing like crazy for six days straight, I’d reached twenty thousand words and was about to lose my mind. So I took two days completely free from writing and watched a ridiculous amount of television, not giving a thought to my story. After that, I was able to throw myself back into writing again with joy and excitement.

Writing a novel is hard, and writing it in a month may seem even harder, if not impossible. However, I’d suggest that every writer try it at least once. I’ve only finished one novel outside of NaNo. The pressure of the deadline and the knowledge that so many other people are writing like crazy at the same time is an incredible motivator.

So go forward, write boldly, and don’t fear the terrible quality of the words that will most likely come from writing so quickly. That’s what editing’s for.

Irie Odessa is an eighteen-year-old homeschool graduate obsessed with stories in every form. She also enjoys drawing, theatre, music, and dance, though she isn’t particularly good at any of them. She has finished five novels and is almost done with number six. Her favorite genre depends on her mood, and though she’s experimented with almost every one possible, she’s had the most success writing contemporary and fantasy. Check out her blog here