NaNoWriMo Prep: Learning to Prioritize

October 5, 2016


I have let you down, dear Readers. I am late. But I’m not going to apologize because, as much as I adore my adoring public, I had my priorities straight this time.

You see, I have a deadline that has to be met by tomorrow, so I was up late, burning the 2 am electricity, trying to get closer to that deadline while the inspiration was burning hot. I knew what my priority was, and that’s what I put first.

And that’s what the prep post is about today: learning to prioritize.

Any other time in the year, it makes perfect sense to squeeze writing in here and there (unless you are  Professional Writer ™, in which case you squeeze everything else in). During November, however, you have to learn to make writing your top priority.

I am not saying to neglect Real Life. If you have small spawnage, a Day Job, or educational pursuits, those have to come first. It just means you have to work even harder to make sure that other pursuits are neglected during November.

Here’s what I mean: apparently, Real People must eat and sleep regularly. Showering and other self-care is advised. But there are a large number of people who manage these things without giving up dream pursuit. They do not have more hours than everyone else, even though it seems like they might. Instead, they learned how to prioritize.

So I’m going to give you a (very-mini) course in prioritizing for November. This is going to feel a little like work. Congratulations. You just learned one of the hard things in writing. It’s not always pursuing your Muse over fields of deepest violet. Sometimes it’s plain, boring work.

Sit down with a free fifteen minutes or more. Don’t rush this. List out your hourly obligations for each day of the week. Then fill in the things that normally take up the rest of the time. Be honest with yourself. Do you spend 16.2 hours on Facebook while calling it “writing”? Put “Facebook” on the page.

Now go through and highlight the things that you cannot change. Job time. Eating. Sleeping. Physical activity.

Rewrite your schedule and only put in the highlighted things. See everything else? This is where you put writing time.

Your weekly (or daily– I’m not judging) binge with the Winchester brothers? Save it for December. The 43 minutes you spend playing Video Slot Dice in Hell RPGs? Get it out of there. If you spend two hours getting dressed in the morning (I might be judging a little here), figure out a routine that lets you cut it down to 1.5 hours.

Look at your schedule. Can you double-up anywhere? Maybe you commute on mass transit. Write while you commute. Even if you only get in ten words while commuting, that’s ten words you didn’t have before. List it on your schedule. Just make it one of those things you do. Lunch break? How about 15 minutes to eat and 15 minutes for a word sprint?

You get the idea.

That’s all for today. Just set your priorities. Tomorrow, we’ll go over how to set up some routines and shortcuts (I’m looking at you, two-hours-to-get-ready people) to make daily things a little easier.

Trust me. You’ll thank me for this later.

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