With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) underway, there is currently a worldwide race among members to tap out 50,000 words each by the end of November. But how does someone find the time to jot down an average of 1,667 words per day?
For someone like me who generally works core nine-to-five office hours – with at least one shift per week lasting until 6:30pm – I have to make use of any time possible.
I also organise the events for our region. Throughout the year, we have two hours of ring-fenced writing time every Tuesday evening, and an extra two hours per week on a Saturday throughout November. While at meet-ups, it’s relatively easy to crack on with work because everyone else is also trying to reach their word count goal.
The difficulty arises on non-meeting nights. I want to achieve a certain number of words per day, but I also need to tidy the flat and catch up with correspondence. The solution I find works best for me is based upon the Pomodoro Technique. In fact, one of the official NaNoWriMo Twitter accounts ran Pomodoro word sprints just today.
In the classic technique, you carry out a task for 25 minutes and take a break for five. However, I find that isn’t enough time to allocate to writing, so I prefer a double Pomodoro: write for 50 minutes and tackle another task away from the PC for 10 minutes.
I also have an instrumental playlist that lasts for approximately 50 minutes and helps me slip into the mood for writing, as that’s what I chiefly do when I listen to it.
Whatever time management techniques work for our members, however, we the organisers always make it clear that National Novel Writing Month is supposed to be fun.
If anyone finds it overwhelming, we want them to know it’s perfectly acceptable to leave aside a project, and there is no shame in not hitting the 50,000-word target.