NaNoWriMo Tip #12: Choose the right time to write.

Chutes and Ladders board
A wonderful thing about National Novel Writing Month is that it gets participating writers into the mindset of writing under deadline. This may come easier to those of us experienced in doing so (like journalists, or advertising copywriters), but it's still a challenge for anyone who is working on a creative project — like a novel — for the very first time.

During the thirty days of NaNoWriMo, there will be many of those days in which you'll be on your game. Metaphorically speaking, that “game” is similar to the one we played as kids called Chutes and Ladders. Some moves put you far ahead, whereas others put you back to Square One.

I'm presuming you've already had more than a few days in which you've been knocked off your pace. Perhaps real life got in the way. Or maybe your muse took the day off (that is probably what keeps her mossy; and maybe you should follow her lead…after NaNoWriMo, of course). 

A lot of your success as a novelist will depend on the habits you develop to nurture your creative writing. A very important consideration is what time of day you write, and why you've chosen it.

If you're one of the lucky people in this day and age who actually holds down a full-time job, obviously those eight hours are out the window. If you're too tired to write after you come home, then maybe the best time to write those 1500 words is prior to leaving for work. (Hey, it worked for John Grisham. Make him your role model).

Granted, if you have to get your kids ready for school in the morning, there goes that writing opportunity, too.

Which leaves your lunch hour. Can you throw 1500 words onto a page in 60 minutes?

If you're focused, yes you can. 

If you're driven, yes you can.

If you are well-hydrated well-fed, and away from distractions, yes you can.

Many writers will work in groups. Seeing your pals clicking away may be the best motivator. You don't want to be the only one staring off into space. That said, seek out a local NaNoWriMo daily/weekly writing group. It may light a fire under you like nothing else can.

I've always been in awe of my writer friends who can write anywhere, like a favorite coffee shop, or their local bookstore. It's what works for them: to be out of their home and writing, even if they don't have an out-of-house office.

Okay, here's my little secret: some of my best writing takes place on airplanes. It's psychological: back before WiFi invaded airplanes, I was actually relieved that I couldn't be distracted by email or surf the web.

Today I'm cheap enough that I refuse to pay the $5 fee to get connected.

At least, that's what I tell myself.

The truth is, I love those cross-country flights because it's five hours of uninterrupted writing time (especially now that I've purchased a tiny Netbook, so that when the guy in the row in front of me reclines his seat, I don't end up with my keyboard sitting on my chest.)

If I were under deadline for a book, it might behoove me to buy an unlimited ticket, so I can stay up in the air. Yeah, right. Financially, that's out of the question. So I do the next best thing: I've noted that my best writing has been done after a full day's work (yes, of writing). I seem to get a second wind sometime after 11pm. It's quieter. No hubby pawing at me. No kids whining at me. No dog asking my thoughts about an evening stroll. 

It's MY time. 

And my books are worth my taking the time.

So are yours, so figure out WHEN you can write optimally, and go for it.

Because yes you can.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown




I've got a question for you: What writing habits work best for you? Which haven't worked?

Happy National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie

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