I would like to start this post off by stating that I am not a planner. I enjoy spontaneity and I struggle keeping my planner up to date. That being said, good time management skills are crucial in order to successfully complete NaNoWriMo. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days seems impossible but if you are able to keep to a schedule and manage your time, it becomes much easier. I think that “scheduling” time to write seems a bit intimidating, so I have a few tips that will help in the development of good time management skills.
To start off with, become more aware of how you spend your time before November begins. Throughout the next few weeks, take note of when you have down time. Do you have extra time in the evenings that you use to watch television? Do you spend your mornings going through emails or checking social media? After you reflect and can recognize when you have free time, convert that free time into writing time. I suggest putting this into your planner as soon as you can so that your writing schedule becomes more concrete. Once November comes, you can feel confident that you’ve scheduled time into the month to complete your 50,000 word goal.
Once you have a writing schedule in place, make sure that you stick with it throughout November. It is so important that you write every single day. For someone who may not be used to writing every day, this does seem impossible. However, breaking that 50,000 words into 30 small 1,667 word chunks makes NaNoWriMo much more manageable. One of the most discouraging things about completing NaNoWriMo is getting behind on the word count and trying to make up for lost time. Writing every day will help keep stress levels at a minimum and will keep you motivated.
Although scheduling is really important, eliminating distractions is just as vital. Since most writers do all of their writing on computers, the Internet and computer games can become a dangerous trap. Make sure to take these temptations away on the first of November to avoid regret and lost time later. There are some great applications for your computer that can block websites completely or limit the time you spend on certain websites. Mac computers have a SelfControl app that allows you to set time limits that you are permitted on certain websites. If you have a PC, you can download these types of apps based on your Internet browser. Google Chrome offers an app called StayFocused, Firefox offers an application called Leechblock, and so on. I have found these so useful when trying to stay off websites that become distractions, such as Facebook or Youtube.
Finally, do remember that you don’t need to write only in long spurts. When attempting to write 1,667 words a day, it’s hard to see a ten minute block of time as enough time to write. I know that if I have a spare ten minutes, I may lazily browse through emails or flip on the television. This can be a massive time waster and since you will probably encounter many of these short blocks of empty space throughout your day, you should take advantage of any free time you get. You will be shocked by how much writing you can get done because those small amounts of time do add up.
If you are participating in NaNoWriMo or have some great time management tips, please share them in the comments! If you are interested in signing up for NaNoWriMo, click here.
Until next week,