Monday, November 21, 2011

Challenge Yourself- The Journey of an Unofficial Nano-er

Well, it’s unofficial.

My NanoWriMo is anyway.

If you don’t get the weird slang, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. There’s a website and tons of various support groups for it. Even ACFW has a special group set aside to encourage the chaotic masses of frenzied writers.

The typical expectation is 50K words in one month.

And for the everyday, four hours a day (or more) writer, that may seem just peachy.

But fitting it into an already filled day requires creativity and a whole lot of perseverance.

So on November 1 I took the plunge –except I set my wordcount at 40K (pretty sure that I’d never reach it).

Now I can’t afford to hire babysitters each night after work so that I can write. I can’t afford a housekeeper or cook to take care of those needs – so what on earth could I do to add more writing time to my day.

Here are some things I’ve discovered this month that have helped me reach my current 24K wordcount:

1. Turn off the T.V.

I didn’t realize how much time I wasted watching television – and I’m not a big-time T.V. watcher anyway. Just by going into another room after the kids are in bed, I’ve added so many more words to my manuscript. I’ve saved time for three of my favorite shows – but otherwise, I write.

2. Close the office door and bring a lunch

During my lunch break I would leave my office door open, allowing plenty of distractions if I had time to actually take a lunch. So on the days when I can take lunch in my office, I close the door, scarf down my packed lunch, and get to writing. I can have as much as 45 minutes and type between 500 & 1000 words, if I’m on a roll.

3. Get up 30 minutes earlier or stay up 30 minutes later

I still get plenty of sleep (for me), but staying up that extra 30 minutes gives me a little more time. It’s amazing what you can write in 30 minutes. Just the other day I wrote 217 words in a fifteen minute break of time while the potatoes were boiling for dinner. :-)

4. Strategically write in the midst of chaos

While my kids are watching a movie I pull my laptop into the living room with them. My daughters will usually come snuggle up on either side of me, and I’ll write. While they’re enjoying some animated or kid-friendly video (that I’ve seen 100 times), I can get a few more words in. It’s really amazing.

The whole experience has been a good kick in the writer-buns for me. It’s shown me what I can accomplish with the time that I do have.

So- are you a NaNo-er?

What are some of your tips for getting in that extra time?


Pepper Basham is a pastor’s wife, mom of five, and university instructor. She write stories (of various genres) and peppers them with grace and a dash of humor. Her current motto: “Three things are necessary, four are required: God’s grace, a sense of humor, children’s hugs, and good chocolate. Everything else is secondary.”

Photos courtesy of:


Joanne Sher said...

I'm NaNoing - and I'm discovering (too late LOL - for this month, anyway!) that I write best/faster when I'm "racing" others. Some friends and I have a group on FB, and we do 15 or 20 minute "word wars." Just focusing like that - with all the other stuff off, works SO well for me! If I can manage four 20-minute word wars (or so) throughout the day, I generally can manage my daily word count.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Pepper,

NaNo has been eye opening for me, too. I've always been a slow writer, taking over a year to finish a book. With lots of breaks while life happens, of course.

But I hit the 50,000 word mark yesterday! Unbelievable to me! I've learned that I can write fast, and my secret is to plot it out before hand. I'm not sure if this book is any good, but it has been a great learning tool!

The downside - my house is falling into a state of disrepair and I feel like I'm living in a fog of 'what should happen now?' while walking around the house. And no exercise at all (didn't need much of an excuse for that!) LOL.

I congratulate you for finding innovative ways to write with so much going on!


Cindy R. Wilson said...

Congratulations, Susan, on hitting your word goal! 50K is awesome!

Pepper, I like those tips. I'm definitely one of those who has to slip in little 15 to 20 minute writing sessions during the day because my schedule is so...well, not a schedule with a baby right now. You're right, though, so much can be accomplished in that small amount of time. Yay for unofficial NaNo!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Pepper, what innovative and practical ideas you've shared here. I'm an unofficial NaNo'er too. I was on chap 2 on Nov 1st. I stopped breaking my scenes into chapters after chap five b/c I know I'm going to be adding stuff too. I'm over 40K words today, and still going strong on finishing my wip.

Mid-September, I began plotting out all the things I knew needed to be in this story. I created a 21 page document with everything I knew needed to be in the story. I still have many scenes to write, but I've come so far on my story. I'm excited.

Before this point, I had been trying to perfect every scene, and I wasn't getting very far on it. I've learned that beauty and depth comes from just getting words on the page. My characters have surprised me, and unexpected truths have leaped onto the page as I write with the idea in mind. I don't know if this makes much sense. :)

I've been getting up an hour earlier (which means I'm getting to bed earlier--which makes hubby happy), and that has enabled me to crank out an average of 1000-1200 words in that time. I'm going to continue doing this until my wip is completed. I'm excited to write "The End" for the very first time.

Sue, congrats on reaching 50,000 words! Amazing!

I hope you find your unofficial NaNo productive as you make changes in your thinking and in your schedule. Happy NaNo-ing!

Sarah Forgrave said...

I'm not Nano'ing, but I LOVE these tips, Pepper. Quite frankly, I need to kick myself into a higher gear, so I'll start thinking of ways to use your suggestions. Thanks for the kick in the pants, friend! :)

Pepper said...

I only need 'races' at my blah moments. Finding the time to write has been challenging enough for me ;-) But WAY TO GO!!!

Pepper said...

That's awesome! I'm so impressed. You are my new hero/ine ;-)
Totally understand 'fogging', btw.

Carol Moncado said...

Hi. I'm Carol. And I'm a NaNoer.

And a pantser.

And afraid this may be the year I don't finish.

I'm at 25K which doesn't worry me too much [I did about 20K in the last three days one year. It was total garbage but editable. That was the important part as far as NaNo is concerned.] but I'm afraid I may not have enough story left.

I thought so that other year too. Ended up WAY WAY over 50K when that story was all said and done.

These tips are great Pepper. I love the races too. Or the #1K1HR hashtag on Twitter.

My favorite, of course, is spending a day at Panera and really, really, getting in the groove. Can hit 10K+ a day that way. Dunno if I'm gonna get one this weekend or not though. Hoping to but plans are up in the air.

You can do this, dear friend. I know you can!

Dina Sleiman said...

I found out for the first time during this nanawrimo that I actually can write in the middle of chaos. I would have sworn I couldn't. I've been getting a lot done while "listening" to youngest son read out loud in the evenings. I've also discovered that I can write a lot faster than I realized.

Pepper said...

You know, as well as I, that the little moments HAVE to add up to a novel, because the little moments are all we have!
God blesses those little moments though :-)

Pepper said...

WOW!! Congrats on 40K.
I'm going to bed early tonight in hopes that I can get up a little early in the morning.

We'll see....

Pepper said...

YAY - I gave Sarah a kick ;-)
Seriously though, you seem to be such a good self-motivator. Writing just one book this month has been really tough on me. Usually when I get to a 'blah' moment, I switch to a different genre, so this has really made me focus.
Do you realize how HARD that is for me? ;-)
My brain is protesting

Pepper said...

What a way to catch up!!! Awesome!!
Ooo, I can only imagine what a writing day at Panera would be like.
There is a wonderful coffee house just down the street from my house. It is inspiration for the bakery in my wip. The perfect writing date would be inside that coffee house for a day. Oh my, just the smells alone are inspiring :-)

Pepper said...

WElcome to the Calm in Chaos Club. LOL
Desperate times call for desperate measures ;-)