25 September 2014

WriMo Diary #1: Time Tricks

Following on to my post last week about planning, I thought I’d post a bit of an update on how I’m getting on. I’m pretty proud of myself so far in that I’ve been pushing forward with actively laying out my NaNoWriMo 2014 novel. With still a month to go until November, I’m feeling positive. 

Something I’ve never been particularly skilled at in the past when it comes to writing is time management. I have the best intentions, as we all do. They just don’t work too well in practice. Last WriMo I told myself I would write about 1,600 words every day in November, which would bring me to the ultimate goal of 50,000 words by the 30th. That’s not too much per day, right? Easy. 

And then I go away for the weekend to celebrate my friend’s birthday. And then I sign up for some overtime at work because I had a particularly big bill to pay. And then this, and then that, and then the other…

The stupid thing is, a lot of the ‘distractions’ that came up last year were things I knew about prior to starting. I should have (could have would have) accommodated for them when planning those ‘easy’ 1,600 words a day, knowing that despite my best intentions there would be days where I just wouldn’t have the time to write. There, I said it. I’m a writer and I don’t write every day. I have a job, I have friends, I have other obligations. In a perfect world my rent would be paid for me and I’d sit all day in Starbucks tapping away on my laptop. I know that writing every day is something to aim for, but I’ve spent too long beating myself up about it and thinking I’m not a ‘real’ writer for not putting words down on a page seven days a week.

That being said, I know I need to manage the time I do have available more efficiently so I don’t end up binge-watching TV shows on Netflix (ahem) when I could be creating. Last year I gave up too easily when trying to divide the number of words I needed to write over the amount of days I had left, telling myself I had to write an equal amount every day. The more it built up, the more scary it was, the less I tried until finally I just stopped.
This year I’ve approached it a little more practically, and hopefully it should give a better result.

I sat down with my work and social schedule for November and plotted out the times I knew I couldn’t be writing. For example, I will be away for a long weekend on the 7th for Boyfriend’s graduation. Although I will try and get some words down during free time over that weekend, I am going to assume my word count for those days will be zero. I also wrote down the exact hours I’d be working over the month, and the free days off I would have. This way it was easy for me to set realistic word count goals, ones I have a much better hope of hitting (and hopefully surpassing). I even included a column for the days I’d be able to get to the library and spend some hours writing there.

Then I COLOUR CODED EVERYTHING according to how many words I would get written on those days, from 500 to 5,000 words. This step wasn’t entirely necessary. I just like colour coding. 

What I have now is a much more optimistic schedule of word counts to hit over November. If there’s a day I’ve said I’ll write 500 words when I find I have more energy and time to get more down, I’ll keep going. But by allowing myself days where I won’t have to write at all, and being strict on myself when I have days completely wide open, I’ve got goals that are suddenly a lot more achievable.

Bring it on, November. 


  1. Very good strategy :) Last two years I failed Nano because I had so many things coming up that I never reached the words per day which was really discouraging. Planning it like this might be a good option for me too :)

    1. Now I just have to see if it actually works! :)

  2. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing your color-coding schedule. I think I may try something like this, because you're right, with work & family commitments I won't be able to write 1667 words every single day (or at least I doubt it.... this is my first year.)

    1. It doesn't sound too much until you put it into practice! And if you know there are days you will struggle, you can accommodate for them and still succeed :) good luck with your novel!