If there’s one thing writers love most, it’s having a big chunk of free time to sit down and churn out words like a madman. “Just a couple of hours is all I need,” we might say. “I could get so much done.”
While having large chunks of writing time is ideal and most productive, it might not be likely, plausible, or even reasonable in your situation. Some days you’ll have those time clusters to bang out the masterpiece but if you’re like most people, those days will be few and far between.
So, what’s a busy writer to do?
First, recognize that every minute counts. In turn, every word counts. Quick, how many words could you write in 60 seconds? Quite a few I’d bet. Even if you wrote two sentences within a 60 second period, that’s two more than you had before.
Obviously, I don’t really recommend writing for 60 second periods. That would drive a writer straight to the looney bin.
Here’s what I do recommend: Budget your time.
I have a writer friend who is super busy. He rarely has time to write. But he makes time by budgeting his time. He would get up early and write for thirty minutes in the morning. He’d leave the office on his lunch break and write in the car. He’d stay up late nights and write.
Often, I would write on my phone when I commuted on the bus. It was a thirty-minute bus ride to and from work. I figured it wasn’t ideal, but it would do. My thumbs could get plenty of words down in thirty minutes and it helped get me further on my daily goals.
The point is wherever you can find time to write for NaNoWriMo, then you need to do it.
Every minute counts. So don’t wait around for that writer’s magical time oasis. Just find any small moment of time and write.
Very few writers have a perfectly open schedule. With full-time jobs, commuting, families, friends, parties, pets, great movies, annoying neighbors, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, shoveling snow, making dinner, cleaning the house (did I mention great movies?), finding time to write can feel like trying to find oxygen in outer space.
When you do find time to write for NaNoWriMo, you’re likely going to be frustrated you can’t hit your daily word goals. Fortunately, there’s a sliver of hope: Weekends.
I know what you’re already thinking. 2,000 words a day! That’s more than the 1,600 words a day to reach 50,000 by the end of NaNoWriMo.
You’re right. It might seem like a lot to write 2,000 words a day. Nigh-impossible for people with 8 to 10-hour shifts, a family, and tons of other responsibilities. Regardless, you still need to shoot for 2,000 words.
It’s no secret Microsoft Word is mostly an absolute pain to use. Quite frankly, most word processors don’t make the cut. Novelists need to keep track of their notes, outlines, and organize everything accordingly. Word processors don’t have the tools to help.
So, ditch Microsoft Word and find a good piece of writing software. Yes, unfortunately, you’ll likely have to throw down a little cash to get the software but it’ll save you a ton of headaches.
I personally use Scrivener when I write my first draft. It has flashcards built in to keep track of my outline, a notes database to keep track of my characters, backstories, plots, and anything else I need to know. It has everything. Fair warning, it does have a learning curve but once you figure it out, you’ll never want to go back to Word again.
In yesterday’s NaNoWriMo tip, I said you should write in short and timed intervals. You’re not going to be able to keep track of the time while you’re writing. That would be a nightmare and ruin the whole process.
So, how do you do it?
You could use the timer setting on your phone. But, frankly, that’s only slightly less cumbersome than watching the time yourself.
The best way is to use a Productivity Timer app. Countless services exist helping keep people focused and monitor the time they use. Here are a few:
They all are FREE and easy to use, though some might have ads or try to get you to buy upgraded services. At the end of the day, you have a great solution to keep you focused and capable of tracking your time without worrying about it.
For some, finicking with a productivity tracker might seem like too much bother. But, if you want to get the most out of your writing and milk every hour (because let’s face it our time is valuable), then I’d highly recommend doing this.