Nano tips: Making Time to Write

I am doing something different in the lead up to Nano this year. I used to take a few newbies under my wing and personally give them all my tips, advice, or encouragement. But this year, I think I just want to put my advice out into the ether. (And I worry that I just don’t have the time to dedicate to people individually anymore too and I don’t want to shortchange anyone).

All writers in the history of the written word have opined about never having enough time to write. It comes with the territory. The truth is, there’s never enough time to write. The writing monkeys will always be pawing at the back of your head, telling you to sit down and pound out all the wildest daydreams that you’ve had all day. That is the reality of being a creative type. But you also have to put in some conscious effort to make sure you are using your time wisely if you expect to write anything of length or substance.

  • Keep a time log for at least one week
    • You really do have more time than you think you do, you just haven’t realized it yet.
    • Track EVERYTHING! From sleeping, to eating, to job duties, to chores.
  • Analyze your time log
    • Do you notice any patterns in your behavior?
    • What about that hour and a half that you were browsing YouTube and didn’t want to put on the log…..
    • What about that period of time in the middle of your lunch hour when you’ve finished eating but still have time?
  • Make something your dedicated time to write.
    • It doesn’t matter if it’s 15 minutes or 2 hours of time, it is for writing only. Nothing else can interfere.
    • Put that period into your schedule so you aren’t tempted to do anything else.
  • Write!
    • It doesn’t matter if you put down 5 words in that time or 15,000 words. All of it contributes to the work you are trying to create. Sometimes it will be more, other times it will be less.
    • Minimize your distractions during your writing time. Phone away, television off, snacks and drinks within arms reach.

Personally, I add in two writing periods to my day during Nano. Before going to work, I typically wake up early anyway so I just shorten my morning routine to get some writing accomplished while the rest of the house sleeps. I find that I am most productive early in the day and late in the day. Accordingly, I also have a writing period after my child goes to bed until I go to bed. Every day. No exceptions. And yes, my phone and TV are a big distraction for me too. That’s why I recommend putting those phones and remotes away from your hands.

I never recommend the often suggested “get less sleep”. Being sleep deprived will not help your creativity at all. Now, if you typically get 8-9 hours of a sleep, then cutting back an hour is not a big deal. But if you’re like me and typically get 4-5 hours of sleep, DO NOT CUT BACK ANY MORE! It’s not healthy.

Let me know what your best way to find more writing time is.

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