Sunday, November 2, 2014

Claiming your writing time--NaNoWriMo Blog 1

Hello Writers!

There are lots of writers and teachers posting how to “Win” NaNoWriMo this month. (Click the link if you don't know NaNo.) Some of my favorite Nano blogs are Mur Lafferty, and this Tumblr.

I’m not one of them.

Daily? Who am I kidding?

However, I can commit to one post a week with some very useful tips for you. Plus, I will link to some of the more industrious writers who ARE posting daily, God help them.

Let’s start this post with some tips on claiming your writing time.

1.     Make writing the first thing. That is, do the writing BEFORE you do the other things. If you have a free hour and you hope to get 20 minutes of writing and 40 minutes of online holiday shopping done, DO THE WRITING FIRST. Then you won’t have worry about not ending your shopping in time to do your writing. The writing will be done!

2.     Adhere to the Pareto Principle.To over-simplify, the Pareto Principle say that 20% of your time and effort generates 80% of the results. So, try to eliminate the 80% of stuff that is a waste of our time and effort. Things like:
                             i.     Negative friends
                            ii.     Expectations (i.e. cleanest house on the block, etc.)
                          iii.     Busywork that gets you nowhere
Also, try to simplify your life. For example, my kids get one after-school activity each per week. That way I’m more than a human taxi, and I can get more writing done. They seem okay with this.

3.     Keep track of your writing time. Be accountable to someone, even if it is just yourself. This will motivate you. The word-counter on the website is excellent for this. 

4.     Don’t ask for time. If you ask, people can say “no.” So, don’t ask. Just take the time. It’s the difference between, “Honey, can I please have an hour to write?” and “Honey, I’m in my office for an hour. See you at dinner.” The first invites the listener to consider the options; the second does not offer options.

5.     Make appointments with yourself. It sounds silly, but it works. I have a writer friend who writes over the dinner hours. Her friends would invite her to dinner, and she would always say, “No, I’m working between 5 and 7 p.m.”  Eventually her friends stop inviting her for dinner. They go to lunch, instead. Practice saying, “I can’t. I have a previous appointment at that time.”

6.     Buy your time (figuratively and literally). I practice what I preach. I have a housekeeper. The kids go to daycare an extra afternoon a week. I literally buy about 10 hours a week  of alone time so I can write. If you can’t afford that, trade babysitting with another mom for next month. Or, trade yard work for tutoring with kids. Be creative!

7.     Get out the ax! This link leads to a form that breaks the day into 30 minute chunks. I have my students track their actual time usage over a week in order to find time to write regularly within their normal day. Things that people normally cut (for the month at least) include:
a.     TV and other time-sucks
b.     Lunches out (I know a writer who wrote all his books during his lunch hour with a sack lunch)
c.      Favors for other people
d.     Cooking dinner (take out for a month won’t kill anyone)

8.     Just say “No.” This one is hardest for me. I can hardly say “no” to another project, another person asking for help, whatever. However, during NaNoWriMo, the answer has to be “no,” or I won’t finish. Also, I can’t say “maybe” to new stuff, either, because many people think this means “keep pestering me until I cave.” Writers should practice saying, “No, not until next month when I am finished with a current commitment. Please feel free to check in with me next month.” 

I'll see you in a week. By then you will have written 12,500 words. Amazing, huh? 

The tips come from Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. The examples are mostly mine.

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