Tag Archive | nano

Managing Writing Time During NaNoWriMo

I’ve seen a lot of posts around about making time to write, and I know there are people out there who can get a lot from these posts – but for me, it’s not so much finding time to write as finding time for other things while writing, specifically during times like these – basically, what I’ll call ‘NaNo season’, which, depending on whether you want to tie Script Frenzy in or not, is April or June 1st to November 30th, plus the aftermath and the time spent preparing beforehand if you do any prep-work, where I personally focus a lot on writing. I’m using NaNo season to get a story I’ve been working on and off on since November 2009, myself, but that’s a post for another time. During all of the hype about writing during this time, it’s easy to forget, at least for me, that there are other things I need to get done.

Writing is basically the center of my activities in life right now – aside from spending time with my lovie, it’s probably what I do the most out of all of my usual activities. But how, when I have the ability to bend all of my other things with my schedule, do I make sure I give myself time to do things important to me other than writing? A lot of the time, I find myself getting caught up in writing and not finishing other things that I either need to get done or would benefit from finishing, but I do have ways of managing my time so I can get all of that writing in and still finish the other things I need.

It’s generally a matter of knowing that while writing is a very important thing in my life, I can’t neglect the people and other things that I love. When it comes down to it, the people I care about are more important than getting as much writing as possible done. When someone needs me, I won’t force myself not to be there for them because of writing – that’d be ridiculous. I make sure to keep in contact with everyone, and to spend time with them, as well. I may love writing, but it’s not as important as these people are to me – it’s a matter of keeping your head balanced and knowing that you need to make time for other things and for the people who matter to you.

I make sure to give myself times that I dedicate as a whole to writing, to assure myself that I get it done, but give myself time to also nurture the other parts of my life, such as my relationships and hobbies. When I know there’s an event that may take away from my writing time, I give myself a little bit of extra-time the days beforehand so that I can make up for writing missed, and generally write a little bit more than necessary to hit my month’s goal anyways per day just in case.

I give myself a daily goal for my writing – I personally aim to finish at least one entry of my story and hit a certain word count while I’m at it, and I split that word-count in half, giving myself two separate sessions of writing, where I don’t stop until I reach at least that half-count. As I mentioned in my Camp NaNoWriMo plan post, I’m doing these sessions with a friend, and try to stop when he does rather than keep going until I’m burnt out if I can’t rip myself away after I personally hit the goal. I try to keep these sessions separate, and spend the time in-between doing the things I need to get done outside of writing.

Some things I use as a writing reward when I hit my half-count. For example, I let myself catch up a little on my reading when I finish my first writing session, and go on with the other things I need to catch up on after I finish with that, mainly art and schoolwork. I take my tests, which a bulk of my schoolwork is due to my homeschooling system, once a week, usually doing one on either Tuesday or Thursday, and spend extra time working on sketching or doodling, while going with my schedule and working on my paintings after I hit my daily weekend word goal on Saturday/Sunday nights.

I reserve two parts of the day to hit certain writing goals, and use the rest of the day to deal with the other things I need to finish up on, which can be applied to tighter schedules as well with some adjusting, perhaps to free-time or waking up earlier/going to bed a bit later or any other way that you’re comfortable adjusting it. Since I have a more flexible day, I give myself bigger goals (2,000 words per day in the week, 840 words per day on weekends, 1,000 words per weekday session and 840 in a sitting on weekends) and only break it into two blocks, but it’s a matter of preference and how much time you want or need to set aside for other things.

Now, there are more things here than getting other types of work done – yes, I’m talking about the social life (that term doesn’t really rub me the right way. It sounds a bit standoffish for some reason). That’s a bit simple for me – again, I have free-time that is flexible, mainly during weekdays, so I make my plans beforehand and give myself more time to write around the days before so that I’ll be able to make up for words and goals missed.

Since I’m giving myself a weekly reward for writing, I also use that as an opportunity to do things with friends – in this case, I’m going to be watching movies each Sunday this month, mostly with my writing partner, but there will be times that I invite some other friends to spend that time with me, one example being my birthday – since it falls on a Sunday, I’m going to write a little extra the day before and spend the entire day as a ‘reward day’ rather than just take a little block of time to watch a movie as reward, inviting all of my friends to essentially spend the day having fun. Using writing reward-time as a time to keep up with friends/family is, for me, a good method, so long as I make sure to set aside reward-time as time that they can work with as well.

How has NaNo season been going for you all?


Camp NaNoWriMo: My Plans and ‘Supplies’

I’ve already mentioned a few times before that I’m going to be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this June. I’ve never participated in either of the Camp NaNo’s before, and I’ve only participated in November’s NaNo once, which I wound up giving up on. This year will be different – I’ve got time, goals, rewards, and inspiration. I’m building up more and more excitement for Camp NaNoWriMo, and I plan to go through with this. I’m outside now as I write, sitting on my porch and enjoying the fresh air – something I’m sure I’ll be doing during most of my writing sessions during ‘camp’.

My project this year is the same one I tried to go through with last time, and the same I’ve began several unfinished drafts on, even completing one of them. None of them quite had the right spark – and after a while of immersing myself in a different project along with reading up on the craft of writing a lot more, I’ve figured out how to make it work for me much better. The plot’s being twisted around and recreated, new twists have been added, and I’ve gotten heaps of ideas for new character development, something that was missing from the older drafts (despite my absolute love of it – my characters and their relationships as a whole are some of my favourite parts of writing). Instead of sticking to the same old story that I usually try to tell, I’m starting at the same place and allowing myself to branch out to whole different levels of the story. It is, as I mentioned in a previous post, a continuation of an edited version of a short story I posted on here a while ago, The Angels.

This may not be the final draft, but I have a feeling it will be the best version yet – complete with new dimensions to old characters, and a plot much more fun to get into than before. I am 100% sure that when this draft is finished, it’ll take tons of revising and rewriting to make it into really something, but that’s not really the point – you can’t edit a blank page, and if you don’t start with anything, you won’t end with anything either. NaNoWriMo is a tool to get a draft started/finished, not a tool to complete a polished, ready-for-publishing novel, after all. Now, without further ado, my supplies for camp:

  • A few pre-written entries to the novel

I’ve been doing some pre-NaNo writing, to get the ball rolling on my story so that when the event actually begins, I’ll be past the opening and ready to delve into new and exciting dimensions of a story that I’ve been through several times. My project is going to be written in journal entry format, seeing as it’s one of my favourite formats to both read and write in. It’s a blast getting into my character’s head and it’s a way to make the story very personal – it’s not just his story, it’s his thoughts and his emotions weaved into it on a different level. Journal format isn’t right for everyone, but for me, it makes writing the story much more enjoyable, and that’s what matters at this point – I have to enjoy writing it as much as possible to be able to get things down so quickly.

For camp, I’ve decided to try out a software made for journals, called ‘The Journal’. It’s working very nicely for me – it took a little bit to get used to (which was another reason I started doing some pre-NaNo writing, in order to get used to the program) but it’s easy to get in the hang of and use. Since I’m writing in journal entry format, I’ve created a category for my NaNoWriMo novel and am using the journal features that the program was primarily made for. It logs each entry per day (which I will have to change the dates when I save the draft as a whole, but it is useful) and has a little calendar that you can manage and click through to each entry on, even allowing you to add onto days that have already passed or start entries for days that have yet to come, which is also useful for novel-writing in some ways. It saves your entries periodically, and also has a ‘save as’ feature under the export file section where you can save each entry (or even the entire thing) as a different file-type (I go with .rtf’s for the time being while I just save an extra copy of my work).

Dropbox is how I manage to keep all of my files backed up and in-order. I haven’t had it for long, but it’s a great help – if you save a file in the dropbox folder, it will store a copy of it on your account online and on every computer, phone, etc you have connected to your Dropbox account. It also allows for easier sharing of files and folders. This is where I save my extra .rtf copies of my entries for my novel, in it’s own little folder in my Dropbox. Not only is it easy to use, it’s very useful and helps you keep your files on-hand as easily as possible! I suggest it to anyone who wants to keep their files safe and sound and would like to be able to access their files not only from any computer or phone that they have the program on, but anywhere so long as they can get online and into their account.

  • Drinks and snacks

While I’m not much of one for snacks, I love to have a drink while I write. Coffee, sweet tea, green tea, Dr. Pepper, Mr. Pibb, anything I like, I’ll drink it while I write. It helps keep me comfortable and energized, and the occasional snack is great too. As I write this, I’m sipping on some very, very sweet tea, expecting a little bit of supper in an hour, which will be around the end of a pre-writing session. I’ll also probably go to Starbucks every now and then like I did during November to enjoy some of their delicious little snacks and a mocha while I write (this usually helps me get a lot of work done – going out into a different environment specifically to write both gives me some fresh air and a change of setting, along with motivation!).

  • A friend to participate with

This June, both my sweetheart and I will be participating. Having someone else to participate with is actually very exciting for me – especially since we’re going to be sitting down and powering through some writing sessions together. We have our goals set for our days and will both work towards them together until we both reach the minimum word count goal we’ve set, meaning that if one of us has hit that goal but the other hasn’t, both of us keep writing regardless until the other has. Not only does that encourage writing more than our daily goal when it happens, it also has some motivation for the other person to get their draft down faster (again, as NaNo is a tool for getting things down, not getting a polished, publishable draft, getting the story down quick is a goal for most) since the other person will continue to work despite hitting their daily goal. We’ve also decided that after we both hit our goal, we’ll discuss the work we got done today and whatever problems we encountered/things we discovered during the process.

  • Rewards

I guess this kind of ties in with the last two here, but I have worked out a rewards system for the month. Every Sunday, if we’ve hit at least our minimum goal in weekly word counts, we’ll be able to watch a movie together to relax for a little while. The movies are generally less serious ones and moreso ways to relax and get a laugh after a week of hard work. We’ve also both chosen something to get the other when we finish writing these drafts, which might not necessarily be during NaNoWriMo, but still provides incentive to keep writing. Another reward I’m planning on giving myself is being able to read a little bit once I’m finished with my goal for the day.

  • Twitter/this blog

Yes, they’re distractions – but being able to escape and get distracted every now and then is okay, especially when you’re doing a lot of work around the time. Not only will tweeting and blogging document the experience and how it’s going, it allows me to reach out to others who are experiencing/have experienced the same event before. One of the most enjoyable parts of NaNoWriMo is, to me, learning about other people’s points of view on the event and how it’s gone/going for them.

Daily word count goal for weekdays: 2,000 words

Daily word count goal for weekends: 840 words

Are you going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are your goals and “supplies”? And for everyone in general, what have you been working on lately in terms of your writing, and how’s that going?