Today is the final post in 2022’s NaNoPrep series. The game will be afoot on Tuesday!
Many authors are prepping for NaNoWriMo 2022. They are mentally committing to writing 1,667 new words every day beginning on November 1st or a total of 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th.
Right now, they are wondering how they will meet this goal. I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer for that, as you must be able to pay your bills, or no books will ever be written.
When we are just beginning on the path to becoming an author, we feel guilty for taking the time to indulge in such a profoundly personal pleasure. Life tosses up roadblocks, and developing a regular writing habit is difficult.
We have jobs, families, duties to our religious faith, and many demands upon our time. We have all the extra work and activities that come along with living our lives.
In the 1980s, I could only write for half an hour or so at night after my children were asleep, pouring my angst into lyrics for songs. This is why my poetry has a rhythm: I’m a songwriter at heart, and there is always a melody in my head.
The most important thing about developing a writing process is to find one that works for you.
Give yourself permission to try different things until something works.
- Do you work best in short bursts?
- Are you at your best when you have a long session of privacy and quiet time?
- Or is your process something in the middle, a melding of the two?
What if my style changes? What if the way that worked last month no longer works?
Give yourself permission to change, to find a way that does work. Be willing to be flexible.
Until this past June, I wrote best when I had a long stretch of time to just sit down and immerse myself. Then my husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological disease, and our life underwent a fundamental change. I am now the only driver in the family, and we live in an area without public transportation.
Varying my projects and writing in bursts broken up by daily activities works best for my schedule nowadays.
The truth is, we must be open to the writing process that makes us feel productive, whether it works for someone else or not. We feel good when we’re productive.
I have my best ideas when I’m about to leave the house—no joke. If that is you too, do as I do and write those thoughts down. I keep a notebook around just for those moments.
You will be productive once you find your best style.
But first—you must give yourself permission to write. Once you do that, your family will too.
I have plenty of downtime between my daily tasks. That is when I work on whatever revisions are needed. You would be amazed at what you can get done in ten-minute bursts.
Balance is the key to a happy life. We want to feel productive and creative, and we need to share our lives and interests with our family and friends.
Therefore, we who wish to write must set aside time to do it. This allows us to be creative and still support our families, who all have activities and interests of their own.
As I have said many times before, being a writer is to be supremely selfish about every aspect of life, including family time.
- It also requires discipline and the ability to set aside an hour or so just for that pursuit, a little time where no one is allowed to disturb you.
A good way to ensure you have that time is to encourage your family members to indulge in their own interests and artistic endeavors. That way, everyone has the chance to be creative in their own way during that hour, and they will understand why you value your writing time so much.
Many times I wrote while my children did their homework. I was there, able to help, but I was doing my own “homework.”
To be happy, one must have a balanced life. Don’t become so obsessed with writing about fictional lives that you aren’t present in your own.
That need to be present in my real life is why I schedule my writing time. It’s also why I reward myself for achieving my writing goals.
- Some people manage to fit short bursts of writing into their daily schedule, writing at work during breaks or at lunch.
- Others must schedule a dedicated block of time for writing, either rising two hours before they depart for work or skipping some TV in the evening.
If you are a person who needs a dedicated block of time, do it even if you have to get up at 4:00 a.m., and don’t let anything disrupt you. On December 1st, you can reward yourself by sleeping in.
But maybe you can’t sit still for too long.
- Write in small increments—ten minutes here, half an hour there. These short bursts add up.
If you want to meet the goal of 50,000 new words during the 30 days of November, I can’t stress this one thing enough: write every day, whether you have an idea worth noting or not.
Perhaps your mind has gone blank. An idea is locked in your head, but you don’t have the words to free it. You can still advance your rough draft and meet your word count goal. Step back and view your story from a distance:
- Write several paragraphs detailing what must happen in your story, such as: Fergus dyes Mason’s hair orange here. I don’t know why. Then comes the chase through midtown on bicycles. Fergus gasping, out of shape. Mason catches sight of Leo entering the museum.
Make a note about what blocks you and move on. Once you are past that spot, you will be writing the narrative again. Those notes will be there for you to flesh out when you come back to them. Plus, everything tallies toward your daily word count goal, even those paragraphs that are just thinking out loud.
I am a slow keyboard jockey, and I can do about 1,100 wonky, misspelled words an hour during NaNoWriMo. But every word counts, misspelled or not.
Writers and other artists do have to make sacrifices for their craft. It’s just how things are. But you don’t have to sacrifice your family for it. Sacrifice one hour of sleeping in, and sacrifice something ephemeral and unimportant, like one hour of TV.
By writing in short bursts whenever you have the opportunity, you might finish your first draft and get that certificate that says you completed 50,000 words in 30 days.