NaNoWriMo: How I Find Time to Write

Days till NaNoWriMo: 6

Money raised for Equal Writes if I finish: at least $400

timepieceEasily one of the biggest obstacles or challenges I face when attempting NaNoWriMo is finding the time to write 50,000 words in a month, fitting it in with my busy schedule of work, political activism and perhaps some remnants of a social life.

I’ve read some excellent posts around the blogosphere regarding this. And the consensus seems to be about making the time to write instead of finding it.

Here are some of my ways of finding of making the time during November.

1. Procrastination

Facebook, Twitter, reading blogs, checking email again, reading the news…again, TV, cleaning the house. There a million other things you can do other than write. And I admit to doing the last thing on that list a number of times to procrastinate instead of writing.

Cutting down a number of these things will be a priority in November. I plan to cut down the number of blogs I’ll keep up to date with during the month. I want to try and keep the browser closed during writing time. And I want to get some words down before I allow myself to check Facebook and Twitter for the first time that day. This will be a major challenge.

2. Writing each day, even if it is a little bit

Some days will be more available for writing than others. So I’m trying something new this year. My downfall in previous years has been when I’ve missed a day completely. The momentum is completely lost.

So I aim to write each day, even if it is a little bit, whether it is a few hundred words at work or a few hundred before I go to bed.

Perhaps my 365 challenge has taught me something.

3. Write-ins and getting ahead

The other side to writing each day, no matter how much is that some days, I’ll have more time. I think getting ahead and making the most of those free days are essential to any chance of finishing 50,000 words.

I’ve worked out that I can write around 500 words in a 15 minute sprint if I know what I’m writing. So on days where I have a few hours to dedicate to NaNoing, I may be able to get out 4-6,000 words.

The write-ins that the Melbourne chapter of NaNoWriMo hold should be an excellent opportunity for this. I plan to go to a few of these.

4. Work

It’s no secret that I despise work. I despise work because it takes up so much of my time and I hate the fact that the majority of my life will be taken up working for someone else. This is invaluable time that I’d love to tap into.

If I am able to establish writing fiction at work, then I think I may be on to NaNo-victory.

Tips for getting away with writing at work include not telling anyone you’re doing NaNoWriMo because that will raise suspicion, having a work document running in the background to alt-Tab into and generally being aware of those managers and colleagues around you.

5. Early mornings, late nights

This advice, to cut into your sleep, has been given high testimonials by many others. But it’s probably the method I’m most hesitant about. I really like my sleep, but I think I’m willing to test it.

Getting up early and getting in some words before the rest of the day’s priorities have taken over might be one of the only chances you get on some days.

And if you haven’t got anything down all day, not letting yourself sleep until you get down at least something might be the only chance you get to avoid falling behind.

6. Time between things

planning calendarBuying my MacBook Pro last week and a small and compact laptop backback has meant that my writing is much more portable now. I’m able to comfortably carry around my laptop wherever I go.

That time waiting become valuable; waiting for the train, work to start, someone to meet me or between work and a political event.

I hope to take advantage of these small and valuable pockets of time, and not just depend on large chunks.

7. Writing away from home

Related to the first point on procrastination and the previous point on time between things, writing away from home is something I really want to try this year. I’ve seen others romantically relay their stories of writing in a café each morning.

I have tried writing away from home once. Taking a sick day, I’ve come into the city like normal and got to work on my writing. It seems more focussed and with a purpose.

Home can be too comfortable and leave too many opportunities for procrastination. Stepping away from that environment makes a clear signal: I’m going to write.

8. Politics

This isn’t a way to make time to write. But I thought it was important to address considering that one of the major advice given is to cut out other extra-curricular activities during November. This is good advice, to a point.

But politics is a major priority for me. It’s something I’m not willing to sacrifice in order to find extra time to write and it’s almost a matter of principle that I don’t eat into these political commitments like meetings and demonstrations.

If there’s something you do that you consider just as important, I don’t think you need to sacrifice it. These things are often the lifeblood of your motivation to write and writing taking away that will suck the life out of your writing and make you resent it as if it is a chore.

Other excellent posts on finding time to write:

  1. What Will You Give Up To Write Your Book? – The Creative Penn
  2. Making Time – Deadline Dames
  3. A Writer’s Shiny Sink—10 Ways to Write Every Day – Routines for Writers

How do you find the time to write? Have you written a blog post on the issue too? Post a link in the comments section.

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7 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: How I Find Time to Write

  1. The only way I can fit any writing in is on Saturday and Sunday mornings when my wife sleeps in, or to send her to her mother’s house for the afternoon. I need an office away from home, somewhere I can escape to, maybe run by every day after work for an hour and just write.
    .-= John Pender´s last blog ..Uncle Mike On Ethanol =-.

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  3. This is such a wonderfu list Ben.

    You know I am a big fan of writing away from home. What I plan to do is turn off the internet and not turn it back on until I have my word count for the day. If that doesn’t happen until bed time then there’s no internet all day. I suspect though lots will get written without the distraction of the internet. Last year I wrote 15,000 words in three days when the internet got knocked out in a storm. Not surprisingly – I didn’t rush out to get it fixed.

    My lap top isn’t quite as light and portable as your Macbook, but I do always carry paper and pen with me for those moments when I might snatch some time to write.

    To me – sleep is really important. Without sleep you can’t maintain clarity of thought. So it’s going to be early to bed and up early, as I battled to establish a writing routine, as much as just put down 50,000 words.

    I’ll be going down to the Valley and getting my stock of choc coated coffee beans for you later on in the week too.
    .-= Jodi Cleghorn´s last blog ..#36 Heart Break =-.

  4. Thanks Jodi.

    The idea to cut out the internet is quite a good idea. I found an application for Macs that disables the internet for how ever long you say.

    I agree with you about sleep. I don’t think I’d do an early morning and late night together. And yay for coffee beans! :D

  5. That’s a great list, Ben!

    I don’t have as much writing time available to me this year so I’m hoping to be more focused and make better use of my time. I’ve been getting a lot of my blog posts written ahead of time, so I think my writing output is probably going to be about the same as it’s been the last couple of weeks. Having those posts done ahead of time really takes the presssure off.
    .-= Carol´s last blog ..VAMPIRES =-.

  6. Less blogging should certainly free up time. Pity that my main blogging time is at work, where it’s much harder to write fiction but heaps easy to blog.

    Definitely agree with you on making better use of the time you have.

  7. I have plenty of time to write, but sometimes it’s just too easy to spend my time doing something else. To open my web browser and check my e-mail, or to read blogs that have absolutely nothing to do with writing or NaNoWriMo. Another problem I have is that some friends and family members do not take NaNoWriMo seriously, which means they don’t respect it if I want to be left alone for a while so I can write. So they distract me as well. I plan to write at least 2,000 words every day. That way I’ll be able to take a few extra breaks whenever necessary. I’d like to spend the rest of the time I have on writing down ideas, blogging, etc. This is a way for me to stay in the mood of writing, even when I’m not working on my NaNo novel.

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