What’s the most overlooked and under-appreciated part of preparing for NaNoWriMo? Straightening out your plot? Interviewing your characters? Stocking the cupboards with biscuits and several tonnes of tea?
Nope. It’s preparing your writing time for the long 50k slog.
It’s easy to get caught up in novel prep and that’s completely understandable–you’ll be spending 30 days living and breathing your story, after all–but don’t let it eclipse other important aspects of NaNoPrep, like planning out exactly when you’ll be writing this November.
Here are five easy steps to figuring out the ‘when’, the ‘where’ and the ‘how much’ of NaNoWriMo writing time.
How Much Time Do You Need?
How long does it take you, on average, to write 1667 words? Two hours? Three? More? Try a few practice runs in these last few days before November starts to get a feel for how much time you’ll need to dedicate to writing each day next month.
NaNo pro tip: word sprints will get you to your target word count a gazillion times quicker than writing at a normal pace. Check out our Upcoming Sprints page for the regular word sprints going on through the month and keep an eye out for a Mass Sprint Watch post highlighting all the sprinting events going down this November.
Now that you have an idea of how much time you’ll need to write each day, it’s time to start planning when you’ll write.
Schedule Writing Time and Guard It Fiercely
Visualise your weekly schedule or actually look at it, if you’re organised enough to have it written down. Do you have any long stretches of time that you could dedicate to writing each day next month? Identify time blocks for writing, mark them down in your schedule, and guard them fiercely. Let friends and family know that these times are for writing and that you won’t be available during them. If you can help it, don’t arrange anything else during those times too.
Be Prepared to Grab Time Whenever and Wherever You Can
Don’t get so caught up in planning out big blocks of noveling time that you forget about the short writing opportunities that litter the day. Carry a notebook around with you wherever you go in November and get into the habit of scribbling in it whenever you have free time.
In the waiting room at the doctors? Write. On the train or bus? Write. Grabbing a bite to eat during your lunch break? Write.
Time is limited and your word count is vast. Take advantage of every spare moment and get those words down.
If You Can’t Find Time, Make Time to Write
If there isn’t enough already available time in your day for writing, then try making some. Look at activities you do each day that aren’t necessary. Maybe you could cut back on watching TV or browsing the Internet or reading (just for November, I promise!) and dedicate some of that time to writing instead?
Alternatively, you could organise your day to make it more efficient, therefore freeing up more time. For example, rather than checking your email at several points throughout the day, getting side-tracked on Pinterest, reading your feed on Twitter and lurking on Facebook each time, you could limit yourself to only doing this once or twice a day, and only then for 30 minutes maximum. Suddenly you have so much more time to spare for writing.
Take Advantage of the Weekends
If you’re busy on weekdays, take full advantage of the weekends to catch up on your word count. Dedicate as much time as you can do to writing and crank out those words. Sprinting helps.
NaNo pro tip: Find large sprinting events and use them to boost your word count. Weekends, in particular, will be overflowing with word sprinting events this year. #WriteClub hosts hour upon hour of sprints every Friday, through into Saturday in many time zones. The Sprint Shack hosts the #TalesAndTea Party every Saturday and #SundayScribes every (you guessed it) Sunday. There are several writing marathons scheduled for the weekends in November too, which we’ll let you know more about in the upcoming Mass Sprint Watch post.
In short, there will be opportunities aplenty over the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays of November for you to propel your word count up, up and away. Take advantage of that and plan your writing time so that it coincides with them, if you can.
Remember to factor in time for writing when finishing off your NaNoWriMo preparations this week. It really could save you (and your word count) in November. Identify your sacred writing time, schedule it, guard it, and then sprint it out. Oh, and have fun too. Let’s not forget that.
Do you write at a specific time or grab time whenever you can?