You Have To Make Time

Many people will say they can’t write until inspiration hits them, and then those same people never actually finish anything.  The biggest reason is because they are waiting for lightning to hit instead of making it happen.  I can say from personal experience the best way for inspiration to strike is to just sit down and write.  Yup it is really that simple.  However, one of the biggest obstacles can be finding the time to actually do this.

One thing I really like about NaNoWriMo is that it forces me to work on something.  Granted I could just ignore the challenge the month presents but having a place to go, friends to “compete” against, and something which shows my daily progress really helps me to want to write.  That November mayhem has taught me that I work very well under pressure.  It’s the rest of the year which I have trouble.

So what’s the answer, well it’s kind of the same, I have to force myself to work.  This is much easier said than done though.  Just like with exercising, if you want to keep at it, you have to find out what works for you.

So if you write better in the morning, make the time.  You say you have to be at your boring, demanding job at 8 am, well get up a half hour earlier and write for those thirty minutes when you will be at your peak.  Are you better in the middle of the afternoon, work something in there.  Of course that might be hard if you have an 8-5 type job.  My advice then is to write during your lunch.  Or you could see if changing your hours is possible so you are off during your peak creative time.

Whatever you decide, you have to make the time and stick with it.  This doesn’t mean you can’t take a break now and then or that no matter what happens you have to write at that time.  However on the same note if you let other things distract you too much, well you have defeated the whole purpose.  And if you really don’t have a good time due to family, work, and other obligations, find five, ten, fifteen minutes you can write throughout the day.  Those small chunks can make all the difference.

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Welcome to NaNoWriMo

So you have never heard of NaNoWriMo?  You know what, that’s ok.  I have known what it is for at least ten years and still hear people ask what it stands for.  There are many who when they hear what the acronym means know it, they have just never hear the actual “title” before.  Well it stands for Nation Novel Writing Month. 

Held every November people across the nation (and I think across the world) attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in only 30 days.  While this sounds impossible it really boils down to writing 1667 words per day, every day of the month.  (This actually puts you 10 words over the minimum but hey what is 10 extra words when you are going for 50K?). 

However it actually isn’t as simple as writing 1667 words every day.  Why?  Because life happens and there are days when writing is impossible, other commitments take precedence.  So how do you make it to the 50K mark?  You schedule writing time, figure out the day you KNOW you won’t be writing (like Thanksgiving and Black Friday), add a couple extra days just in case and with the total you have left over, divide that by 50,000 to see how many words you need to write each writing day to finish on time.

This is the third year I have attempted NaNoWriMo.  Last year I did finish a novel.  This year I am well on my way to doing so again.  The first time however I flopped, big time.  What made that attempt worse was I had a 15,000 word novel started that I was trying to finish.  I couldn’t commit myself to the intense writing and thus it did not get done (in fact that novel was until recently still in the works 15 years later at 30,000 plus words.  It has now been put in the “not to be used” pile.  Don’t get me wrong, the stuff in it will be used, just not as the individual novel it initially was intended to be).

Many people know this month by what it used to be called; simply NaNo.  It stood for the same thing back then but I’m sure Apple or the organizers who run the NaNoWriMo site did not want a lawsuit so the name was changed.  Oh you did not realize there was a site for this month of insanity?  Yup (www.nanowrimo.org).  They have all kinds of forums for help, you can become buddies with people to keep track of each other’s progress (and encourage), or just keep track of yourself.  You update your word count daily (or as often as you want).  There is a stats page which will show how many words you have written that day, your overall total, how you rate with the 1667 words-per-day amount they offer to finish, your average words per day, where you will finish if you keep up the current writing pace (this can be bad or good), and some other things.  For someone like me, it helps push me where I need to be pushed.

NaNoWriMo is actually not for everyone.  I say this because everyone has different writing styles and some people just don’t do well with writing now and editing later.  That’s ok.  It is nice to do it though because after that month of writing like crazy, you can say you have written a novel (or two or five depending on how many years you keep at it).  And while the idea is to write a complete 50,000 word novel in that single month, there are people who take previous started work and finish it.  While this is considered “cheating” the discipline needed tends to be stronger when you have a network to keep you motivated.

So welcome to the insanity (although we are almost a third of the way in) that is NaNoWriMo.