Monthly Archives: October 2014

NaNoWriMo Prep: Time Management

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,

Debbie

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NaNoWriMo is Coming!

Well, it’s that time of the year again. The temperature is starting to drop, the leaves are starting to fall, and writers from all walks of life will soon begin the infamous writing marathon known as NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the event, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers from all over take the challenge to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. It’s a literary challenge like none other and last year, over 700,000 writers entered the contest.

Although I have always been passionate about writing, I have never participated in NaNoWriMo. I decided that this year would be my first year and soon began to do a little research on how to prepare for it. There are so many websites, blogs, podcasts, and books that claim to help any person write a book in 30 days. I’m not an expert, but I think that you only need to know two things in order to successfully prepare for NaNoWriMo.

First, you must know what you want to write about. All novels begin with a simple idea, so that is paramount in preparing. Once you have an idea and know what genre you plan to write, it’s time to expand on that idea. Some people prefer to outline the entire novel, scene by scene. Other people prefer to just get a rough idea of the plot. I don’t really think there is a right or wrong way to expand on your ideas, as long as you expand. If you outline your entire novel, that’s great. Outlining your novel is like having a complete road map that you can always deviate from later. If you don’t want to outline the entire novel, I would suggest writing ideas of things that could happen in the course of your story. If you get stuck with writer’s block in the middle of November, you can refer back to your earlier notes and get some new inspiration for your story.

Second, you must know your characters. I think that characters drive your story just as much as your plot does. Nobody wants to read about a flat, lifeless character so it’s incredibly important that you make your character a person. I suggest writing an entire back story for all of your main characters. Where do each of the characters come from? What kind of ambitions do these different characters have? What are their weaknesses? The answers to these questions will deeply affect the actions of your characters in the story. Also, if you know your characters from the start, there shouldn’t be any inconsistencies in the development of your characters as the story progresses.

Although November is a month away, I think that the best time to prepare for NaNoWriMo is now. Not only will you have plenty of time to plot out and develop your story, but different forums and author talks have just opened up on the NaNoWriMo website in preparation for the event. If you are interested in entering, you can visit the NaNoWriMo website here. NaNoWriMo also has a blog that may help you get an idea for your novel.

I can’t wait to share my NaNoWriMo experiences with all of you. If you plan on entering or if you’ve entered before, please let me know!

Until next week,

Debbie