By Maria Arnt | A 5-minute Read
November is upon us, and National November Writing Month has begun. The first week is often a rush – new ideas, new characters, everything is fresh and exciting and fun. Meeting your wordcount goals is a breeze. But then,
Here are some things you can do now to help prevent that from happening, and keep the word count flowing all month and beyond.
Optimize Your Environment
Where you write can be very important to your productivity, as can the time you choose to write (we’ll get to more on when later). We all know the stereotype of jaunting down to the local coffee shop to write your latest masterpiece, but if you find yourself getting distracted by the hustle and bustle, it could be hurting your word count.
In addition to the advice about sounds and smells from Sara’s blog earlier this week, you’ll want to consider the physical comfort of the space you’re working in. Try to find an optimal “Goldilocks” balance: Not to hot, not too cold. Comfortable enough that you’re relaxed, but not so relaxed that you’re nodding off. Enough sensory input that you feel stimulated, but not so much that you get distracted.
As you can guess, this will be different for every writer. If you find yourself stuck, though, try physically moving to a different location. Maybe the novelty of the location itself will get you inspired. If nothing else, the change in surroundings should shake up your neural pathways.
Form a Writing Habit
This might seem a bit obvious since it’s kind of the whole point of NaNoWriMo. But the writing habit NaNo is designed to get you started on is a daily habit, and that’s not necessarily the right fit for everyone. Writing 1667 words per day sounds easy because it’s a relatively small number. But it’s the daily part that gets hard. If you have a flexible work schedule, a mental
Take a look at your schedule and decide what makes the most sense. I’m currently working with a 3-times-a-week goal with 4167 words-per-writing-day. Which three days of the week I write depends on what’s going on that week, but in the
Sound impossible? Not when you:
Use Word Sprints
Word sprints are a popular thing to try during NaNoWriMo. The idea is simple: You set a timer for a certain amount of time, usually between 5 and 25 minutes. When the timer starts, you try to write as much as you can before it goes off. Don’t focus on the quality of your writing, or structure, or character development. Just get the words out on paper.
Some writers find that word sprints can be very invigorating. There are even various Facebook groups and discord servers for writers devoted to doing them together
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It’s based on the idea that slogging along for hours is not the most effective way to do pretty much anything, and so breaks the time up into manageable chunks, usually 25 minutes of work and then 5 minutes of break time.
You can find apps for your phone that
This technique can also be extremely helpful for keeping track of how much you write per interval, which is part of the most effective tool of all:
Keep a Record of Your Writing Rate
All of these tips won’t be much help if you don’t have a way of figuring out which ones work best for you. But instead of just going with what “feels” the most effective, you can really nail it down by keeping a log of your writing. Be sure to make notes of where you were and anything you tried in terms of environmental adjustments. Then, every so often
The great thing about this tool is you can start to see the results almost immediately. As soon as you’re done with your first logged writing session, take a look at how much you wrote in each timed segment, and use this information to plan your future writing sessions. Do you start out strong and then get slower after a while? You might do better if you plan a few short sessions throughout the day and do other things in between to let your brain recharge. Does it take you a while to get up to full speed? Make sure to plan enough time to get up to that rate. Do you find that after a certain number of hours your rate takes a dive? Plan your sessions to end just before you hit that point.
This is also super helpful for determining what time of day you are most productive. We all know the old early bird/night owl debate, but the truth is that some people are just wired to work better at different times of the day. Finding your optimum writing time can make a huge difference in your efficiency.
As you log your sessions over time, you may notice some sessions are more productive than others. Try to take a look at those and figure out what caused your success? Were you in the library where it’s nice and quiet? Did you feel energized right after your morning jog? Did that oolong tea really get your brain buzzing? If you can spot a pattern, try to incorporate it into your next writing session and see if it works.
The best part about all these tricks is they can be incredibly helpful for fighting writer’s block. If you’re not writing in an optimum environment, at the right time of day and with the right intervals of work and breaks, it’s always going to be harder. But once you develop a writing habit that’s based on how your brain works best, you’ll be a lot less likely to find yourself stuck.