author, creative writing, writing

How to Achieve NaNoWriMo Success – Even If You’re Really Busy

Good morning day dreamers, I hope you’ve all had an inspiring week!

The end of another week means another step closer to November, and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For anyone who doesn’t know, NaNoWriMo is your chance to write 50,000 words in a month, giving you a strong head start on a novel/new project.

If you’re thinking of taking part but worrying about your lack of spare time – don’t worry! I think most writers are in the same boat. I myself am increasingly uncertain about my lack of free time, and have been frantically thinking of ways I can fit NaNoWriMo in around work, commuting, university and life in general. I’d like to share some of these thoughts with you today, so that we can all (hopefully!) reach our target.

1. Have an outline of your story
I understand that some people prefer not to plot, especially in great detail. They prefer to let the story take them, and figure out what happens along the way. And that’s totally fine! But having a basic plot/outline can help you avoid writers block, and time spent wondering where to go next. If you have an outline to follow you’ll always know where to go next, which can really help you make the most of your writing time. This year, I’ve gone for quite a detailed plot, which I think will help me be more productive. And remember, just because you’ve got an outline, it doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. Creativity is freedom, and you can change direction whenever inspiration takes you!

2. Make the most of your free time
Many people break down NaNo into a ‘words per day’ goal, and this works really well. You’ll know that in order to hit 50,000 you’ll need to hit at least 1,667 words a day. Some days this will be easy, others less so. It’s not just about having the time, but being in the right mindset to write that many words. So my advice is this; make the most of your free time/good writing days. Write more than the daily word count requires (even though it may be tempting to stop at 1,667!). This way you’ll get ahead, and if you have days where your word count doesn’t quite reach, you’ll still be on track to win!

3. Swap another hobby for writing (just for the month!)
Completely optional, but an idea that could work. For one month only consider swapping out one of your other hobbies to make more time for writing. Maybe you’ll say, “no TV for a month!” or “Less social media time!” Either way, this frees up some hours that could be spent hitting that target. (And hey, you can always start December with a huge catch-up binge watch of your favourite show to celebrate!)

4. Keep your notebook with you
I suppose this goes without saying, as this is common writer practice at all times, not just during November, and not just for those participating in NaNo. But having some form of writing device on you at all times (laptop, notebook, tablet) will help you make the most of potentially unexpected circumstances. If you end up on a delayed train/bus or if you have to attend an appointment and have spare time in the waiting room, you could spend that time writing. It’s a great way to ensure you never miss an opportunity to boost that word count.

5. Wake up early/stay up late
For the month, you could try shaking up your routine. Get up earlier than usual, and spend that time writing. This won’t work for everybody of course. Perhaps you already get up obscenely early, and that’s because your working day requires it. Or perhaps you have children who wake you up at the crack of dawn, and that time is for them and not writing. But if you can fit it in, you should. Likewise, if you have no plans the following morning, perhaps you could stay up late the evening before. As someone who usually takes to their bed very early in the evenings, I think I’m definitely going to try staying up later to write when I have the day off work the following day!

6. Don’t drive!
That probably looks like weird advice on it’s own, but let me explain. Driving requires your focus and attention, and leaves you no space for anything else. However, changing your mode of transport (if only for the month) could make a big difference. I start a new job in a week’s time, and the commute is long. Instead of driving it, I’m going to get the bus. This gives me around 90 minutes there and 90 minutes back to focus on my story. Likewise, if you’re going to visit a friend or relative, could you take a train instead of driving yourself? Again, this frees you up some time to write!

7. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure
At the end of the day writing should be fun, an escape, something to love and enjoy. Working under pressure can ruin that. The challenge of NaNo is supposed to be a fun one, and you should treat it as such. Don’t fret if you get behind, don’t be down if you don’t reach your ultimate target. The first year I did it (2015) I managed 36,000 words. Not the target, but still a great head start for my novel. Be kind to yourself, enjoy it, and see where it takes you.

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? Or perhaps you’re working on an existing project? Either way, I hope these tips will help you fit writing into your life, not just for NaNo, but always.

What do you think? Comment below to share your thoughts,

Until then,
Keep writing,

Follow my progress on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – be sure to say hi, I’d love to follow yours too!

33 thoughts on “How to Achieve NaNoWriMo Success – Even If You’re Really Busy”

  1. Thanks for this! It will be my first year participating in NaNoWriMo and love your tips. My M.O. is usually pantser, though I’ve been trying to outline/plan more and already have half the outline done. Pumps fist in air.

    On Sun, Oct 14, 2018 at 5:08 AM Uninspired Writers wrote:

    > M.L. Davis posted: “Good morning day dreamers, I hope you’ve all had an > inspiring week! The end of another week means another step closer to > November, and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For anyone who > doesn’t know, NaNoWriMo is your chance to write 50,000 words i” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At this moment, I am focusing on editing the first book in my to-be trilogy interwoven with finishing the third book’s first draft. I might join next year, if everything goes well – one of the side stories should end up as a novella around the 50000 words mark. I just don’t want to overload myself thinking about far too many parts of the whole story at once.
    Anyway, best of luck to you (and anyone else who gives it a try).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the advice! I’m contemplating trying this for the first time- I need a kick in the rear to get words out of my head and onto paper!!! Your advice makes it sound a little less daunting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s also a mindset ‘trick’ you can and should use: nano is supposed to set your mind/creativity free, so what you write can be totally messy. Once you get your hear around that, a couple of other things become obvious:

    1. you should include your notes in your word count: character arcs, backstory, dot points, ANYTHING. It all counts.
    2. you should never ever delete anything. If you must take something out, simply change the colour of the paragraph[s] – e.g. to red – and keep typing.

    Nano is about writing down the germ of an idea and hitting an arbitrary word count. The real work of turning that germ of an idea into a book that readers will pay to buy happens /after/ nano. People who expect to complete the next great bestseller in 4 weeks are going to be…disappointed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is that Nano time of year. Yes, I know it well. Not on a personal level though. I doubt I’ll ever do it but I have many, many friends who push hard to achieve every year. Best of luck to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love these tips for Nanowrimo! I will definitely have to keep this in mind when November comes around (which is in -gasp- 10 days!!) I used to be a pantser or plantser at best, but I found that it is SO helpful for me to have an outline on hand. It takes a lot of the stress out of figuring out where the plot will go next, and I find that the finished product is much cleaner in general!
    It is a good idea to write during my commute. I haven’t done that yet but I will give it a try 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good post! Personally, I’m not going to be doing nanowrimo this year because it just isn’t a good year for it. But I am planning to write here and there, and it inspires me to learn how to carve out time for the things that I love doing and cut a few corners where it isn’t important.

    Liked by 1 person

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