Thursday, October 19, 2017

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Minimizing Distractions

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. It's an entire month dedicated to writing, or, more specifically, to amassing fifty thousand words on an original novel. Last year, over 400,000 writers from around the world participated. The NaNo website helps you track your word count, provides regional support and chat boards, and allows you to "win" when you hit your 50,000-word goal. Every November, bookstores, coffee shops, and 24-hour diners fill up with writers - you can practically feel the creativity in the air! NaNo provides a great community, and it's a great motivation for starting or continuing a novel project. 2017 will be my seventh year tackling NaNo, and I can't wait to get started!

That said, there are a few ways to set yourself up in advance for NaNo success. We'll explore these each Thursday in October, so you'll be ready to hit the ground running on November 1st!

This week, let's discuss minimizing distractions. Life is full of distractions, and many of them (like urgent work projects, family emergencies, and natural disasters) are unavoidable. If these types of events happen in November, there's not much you can do about it. But how can you prioritize NaNo writing in light of more typical, everyday distractions? Here are a few ideas:

1) After you've set your NaNo schedule, make sure your family/roommates know about it. If you're planning butt-in-chair, uninterrupted writing from 6:00 a.m. through 7:30 a.m. every weekday in your bedroom, plan to have your door closed during that time, and any obligations (feeding kids, pets, etc.) already covered. You can put a note on the door, or some other reminder that you are not to be disturbed during that time.

2) Use an internet blocker on your laptop during your writing time. I've used Freedom in the past, with good results. If you only have an hour a day to devote to NaNo writing, you don't want to get to the end of that hour and realize you spent most of it on Twitter. If you need to do research for your book, put a placeholder in the manuscript so you can go back and do the research after November's over. You don't want the Wikipedia rabbit hole to disrupt your writing day!

3) If you're planning a long writing stretch, consider setting alarms. I like to do an hour for writing, then a fifteen minute break, then another hour, etc. The alarms make the whole thing seems more official, and I'm less likely to take breaks during the writing time when I know I've got an official break coming up.

Distractions happen. Don't beat yourself up if you can't make your days words because something out of your control happened. But working to minimize distractions ahead of time can help you meet your word goals, and eventually, win NaNo!

How do you minimize distractions during writing times?

3 comments:

  1. Great tips! I need to minimize all my distractions for sure! Can't wait to get my NaNo on!

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