NaNoWriMo is a writing event that takes place each November. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of 30 days, which can be difficult when you have a busy schedule.
Whether it’s because of work or school, here are a few ways you can fit NaNoWriMo into a busy schedule:
Schedule and Plan Out Other Aspects of Your Life
Before you can figure out how to fit NaNoWriMo into your schedule, you have to know your schedule. If you have a class every Wednesday, mark it down in a planner or calendar.
Everything that you can schedule and plan out before NaNoWriMo begins will help you figure out when you can work on writing.
Even if you can’t schedule specific dates or times of your activities, try writing down how long those activities will take, or even what those activities are. This gives you an idea of how much time or energy you need to invest in them.
The point of this procedure is to block off times when you absolutely cannot write, so that you can understand and make use of the times when you can.
Schedule Dedicated Writing Time
Once you have the other activities of your life scheduled, you can schedule some dedicated writing time.
This writing time must be sacred to you. When it’s time to write you need to write. You can’t watch a movie or check social media instead.
If you’re very busy, this time will probably be limited, maybe only 10 minutes at a time. Make sure you have these times blocked out and figure out the total amount of time for writing you have each day.
With the total amount of time for each day calculated out, you should figure out what average word count per minute is, so that you can calculate how much writing you’ll be able to get done each day, or how much writing time you need.
Here’s an example:
My daily writing goal: 4000 words
My average word/min rate: 50 words
4000 / 50 = 80
Minimum amount of time needed for writing each day = 80 minutes
Work Extra When You Can
If at any point you have enough time and energy to write extra amounts of your novel during NaNoWriMo, you should. If a class is canceled, or you have a weekend off from work, try to get as much extra writing done as you can during that time.
Doing this can help you catch up on your word goal if you fall behind, or can help you get ahead and create a buffer for when you can’t write.
Even just doing a few extra minutes each day can add up quickly. With my writing speed of 50 words per minute, just 5 minutes of writing can get me 250 extra words. If I can squeeze in 5 minutes of writing in 4 times a day, that’s an extra 1000 words.
Increase Your Writing Speed
There are many ways to increase your writing speed. Here are a few ways:
1. Certain kinds of music
I find that listening to certain kinds of music (such as faster paced music or music that helps me focus) can increase my writing speed. The only problem is that I can’t write fiction while listening to music. If you can listen to music while you write, try to find pieces that lead you to writing more quickly.
2. Write everyday (or almost everyday)
Two years ago, I could write about 25 words per minute, when I was having a good day. During that time I was only ever writing during NaNoWriMo, the rest of the year I would just do other stuff.
A year ago I began blogging, about 2 months before NaNoWriMo started. I was writing almost everyday, and after getting used to writing regularly, my writing speed would average somewhere between 30 and 40 words per minute, depending on how tired I was and how long I was writing.
If I was writing for just 10 minutes, I could get about 40 words per minute, but once I got to around 30 minutes of writing my average dropped to something closer to 30.
But I kept blogging after NaNoWriMo ended last year, and now I write almost everyday. While I have had to take breaks from writing over the past year, writing so frequently means that I can now write 50 words per minute pretty consistently.
3. Do some writing exercises
I have a whole blog post on writing exercises you can do before NaNoWriMo starts. Some of them will help you increase your writing speed.
If you have a really busy schedule, you’re going to have to prioritize your activities for the month and figure out how much NaNoWriMo really means to you.
You may need to drop some extra activities, or have less free time if you’re doing NaNoWriMo.
You may need to stay up later by an hour, or wake up an hour earlier to make time for writing.
You may have to give up things like video games, movies, or TV shows for the month, so that you can have the focus and time for writing.
If you’re doing NaNoWriMo on a busy schedule, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. Carefully consider whether or not the sacrifices are worth it.
Delegate Activities and Responsibilities
If you can, you may find it prudent to delegate some activities and responsibilities for the month. Perhaps a coworker can cover your shift once a week, or maybe a sibling can handle some of your chores for the month.
See if others in your life can help you out during NaNoWriMo, so that you have more time for writing.
Remember that you don’t have to try and ‘win’ NaNoWriMo the traditional way. If all you can handle is 10,000 words over the month, that’s fine.
NaNoWriMo is more about building up a good habit of writing everyday than it is about sacrificing everything to win.
If you enjoyed this post, please leave a like or share it with someone else who’d enjoy it. I blog about writing every Wednesday, so check back next week for some new content.