National Novel Writing Month – Dealing With Outside Distractions
So, you have decided to take the plunge and participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). You have even come to terms with the idea that you will never write another contraction again. You even realize that there is the distinct possibility that someone named Jimmy Joe Bob or Sally Mae Sue may get killed by a shovel launched through the air by a trebuchet. But, how do you deal with those outside distractions that keep you from making your word count? In short, how do you deal with a non-NaNoWriMo reality?
First thing to remember is that while you are trying to reach a goal of 50,000 words (or more), the rest of the world is still going on. Unless you have a really understanding boss or teacher, you will still have to go to work and class. There is nothing really you can do about that, it’s unavoidable. You can, however, use your time wisely. Carry a notebook with you so that you can work on parts of your story on your downtime, like lunch and breaks. And keep your mind open to what’s going on around you. You never know when a mundane event in your work day may lead to an idea for your project that could generate a couple hundred to a couple thousand words for you. I have even lead in the NaNoWriMo forums of people who had to write papers for class on a topic that it just so happened their characters had to write a paper on (this probably falls in the dirty word count builder category). One of the reasons why when it came time to upgrade by computer I chose a laptop was for the portability that a laptop allowed me.
During November, social networks will be a valuable asset and your worst enemy. Social networks (especially when you have a lot of NaNoWriMo friends in them) will provide you with a sounding board for your word count frustrations, your character angst, and an outlet to provide encouragement to others. But, just remember that social networks can also provide more distractions that will keep you from not only making a daily word count, but from writing at all. For the month of November, it is best to forget about the online social games and hope there’s a Farmville subsidy for the lost crops you don’t harvest when you are writing.
Offline friends and relatives can be an obstacle in your NaNoWriMo project, especially when they find out that the only thing you get from completing NaNoWriMo is a PDF certificate, a bunch of web badges and a rough first draft. The easiest way to dealing with this problem is not to disown your family and alienate your friends, but to get them on your side. Friends can be won over by including them in the process, sometimes with something as easy as including them in your project, even if only in name. This also solves the issue of finding names for characters, as long as your one of those writers who doesn’t put any significant meaning into a character’s name.
Worst comes to worst, you can always cut deals with your friends and family. I did this my first year based off a suggestion I read from Chris Baty. What you do, more or less, is do an accomplishment trade. if you manage to write so many words by such and such day, you will do activity X for the person you made the deal with. It can be as simple as do the laundry the next three times it needs to be done, or as complex as you will go out with the gang if you meet your goals. Such promises can act as a “rain check” for when you skip out on a night on the town to make your word count. You can even carry it so far as to take your friends (or family, or your significant other, as the case may be) out to celebrate your completion of your project once you have verified your word count.
Of course, socializing it not completely out of the question in November. The NaNoWriMo website lists many groups in various parts of the country for the sole purpose of getting together to work on their projects. These “write-ins” can happen wherever you can gather together and work, like coffee houses, libraries, and so on. Who knows, you may even meet some new friends with whom you know you have a shared interest: NaNoWriMo.
Beyond making your distractions work for you, the best way to manage NaNoWriMo is to just manage your time. Know which times of the day you work best at, know which days you can use to make up for lost productivity on other days, and remember that you have the full month of November, from the first to the thirtieth. While some people may finish in half that time, all you need to do is make your word count by the thirtieth. And if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. You still have a first draft of a novel (or part thereof) which is more than you had when you started the month. You can take pride in accomplishing that.
Besides, there is always next year.
- NaNoWriMo (ficklefolly.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo ’11 (climbinggecko.wordpress.com)
- Preparing for NaNoWriMo (thestoryinme.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo (inurbase.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo 2011 is approaching! (djlutz.wordpress.com)
- Less Than A Month Away…Oh God (ericswett.wordpress.com)
- Preparations for the NaNoWriMo challenge (frootbat31.wordpress.com)
Posted on October 11, 2011, in Creative, NaNoWriMo, Writing and tagged Chris Baty, creative, NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Word count, Writer Resources, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.