Talking to recent authors, everyone knows about NaNo that is coming up in November. But if you’re like me, you often have so much going on in your life that you wonder how you’ll make time to just write that word count for the month, or even coming up with a new idea when you’ve written the same one for a certain amount of time.
Here are some tips for how to maximize that time so you can get to your projected word count.
Yes, even the best of writers have to brainstorm to get anything good down. I know people who don’t do outlines, and some that do. I happen to outline, and then change some things as it happens. It won’t be 100% every time, but if it’s in the 70% or more range, I think that’s good enough. Brainstorming can also help with creating your characters, thinking your plotline through, and gives you some revisions to change before you have it down in final.
2. Have a notebook with you.
This one helps me a lot! Often I’ll be out when I get a good idea and will just jot down a few words or two to remember it by. I could be at work or over a friend’s house when inspiration hits me, and my handy computer is NOT nearby. And if you have a notebook, you’re not scrambling to find notes, napkins or post it notes that you wrote on and shoved in that purse or bag you have.
3. Turn OFF the television.
Often I find those who try writing need some sort of noise, but the television is not a good way to do that. You’ll be sucked in to whatever program is on and then you’ll lose a half hour to an hour of your time. If that’s all the time you have for that day, well–you’ve just lost it all with that one show. And believe me, I don’t want to waste it watching the news, American Idol, or another reality show that’s on. 🙂
4. Put your social media updates and email on hold!
A lot of us like to look at Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but that takes up a LOT of time. Did you know that most people check those before checking their email most of the time? People spend at least two hours a day or more between social media and emails alone! That’s a lot of time that’s wasted, that could be used more productively!
I promise, it’ll be there as soon as you hit that 1000 word count, or whatever your goal is for that day.
5. Make a goal.
I cannot tell you how important this is! When I first started writing, I just wrote when inspiration hit me without a goal. I’d do all nighters, be tired all day and then go months again without writing a single word. It all seemed so overwhelming to do it on a deadline. I did reach one–to write a manuscript in two months–it was really bad. But finishing it with scattered ideas made me realize I had a gem that was rough around the edges, and that I could push myself to reach for a goal.
Usually, mine is 1000 to 1500 per day. Not a lot for me, but it changes depending on time.
6. Make a schedule and stick to it.
Having a set time each day allows you to produce more work, because you know you won’t have any distractions. Let your loved ones and family know not to disturb you at such a time, or find a way to do it when you know they aren’t around. In my house, it’s usually after work when everyone’s in bed, since I have two jobs. We find it’s best that scheduled times mean that’s “my” time alone and boyfriend can do what he wants without getting into trouble and without feeling like I’m ignoring him. Believe me, he bugs me when that “time” is up for the evening, or my animals do.
7. Share your writing or ideas if you know they’ll listen.
I’m lucky in the fact that I have a boyfriend who not only knows about my characters and universe, but that he’ll help with his own ideas and twists. I’ve gotten some of the best ideas for things from friends and others who will read, critique and give their honest feedback. If they are genuinely interested, then share your enthusiasm. But also remember to keep it to a minimum and don’t “burn them out” with your story too.
This one may seem time consuming, but this is a much needed part of writing. If you go to BookCountry or Authonomy, these are just two of many sites that offer you a way to see what other people are writing and to leave feedback. You’ll start to see what makes a story, what your own mistakes could be, and a way to fix them. Other ways are letting friends and family read, or just talk with people who also write. It really does help with your skills.
9. Don’t worry about being perfect!
This was a hard hurdle for me to get over, but if you worry about perfectionism, you’ll never get it done. You can edit later. Finishing that draft is important. That’s why there’s multiple drafts. You won’t be perfect on your first draft. Not even Stephen King or Diana Gabaldon are their first try.
10. Have fun!
You can’t write if you don’t have fun doing it! Writing is supposed to be a good thing, not something you dread doing. Yes, it’s a job. It’s something to commit to, like a full time job. But learn what works for you and what doesn’t. If music is your thing, listen to it. If you need to take breaks, that’s okay too. Always make sure you’re having fun and progressing with your story.
One other way to do that is to have contests between your friends if you have a group of you. Share little scenes and ask them what they think. A friend of mine and I do this all the time, and we write two completely different genres. Either way, it makes the time seem to go faster and you’re not just “WHEN IS THIS GOING TO BE DONE!!!!!?” It really does help.0