I’ve been told many of you have lives outside of Writing. Apparently these involve things like Work, Family, and School. I have none of these things, but I’m going to help you plan for November as if I do.
First, the big secret to winning NaNo is to know what you have to do to win. If you have a job and a family, you know that you need to write fast and hard (even if you don’t write erotica). If you have lots of free time, you may need motivation. My trick would be to plot your life the way you plot a book. (Pantsers, this even means you.)
1. Figure out your life
Find or make yourself a calendar. November starts on a Sunday this year, which is very helpful. Make four weekly calendars (like above) and one with just two days. You have November.
Now, fill in the things you cannot clear off your schedule. Apparently taking a month off to write is frowned upon at most jobs and places of education, so enter those first. Don’t forget commute time. If you’re not a Figment, you have to travel the slow way.
Next, figure out family and social commitments. Missing your mate’s birthday because of NaNo is a bit short-sighted. You may still want people to talk to you if you don’t become world-famous.
If you’re not a Figment (and I believe I’m the only Figment Writer who does NaNo), put in time for things like eating and sleeping. Even if you are a Figment, don’t forget to include time for overpriced coffee. Writers need caffeine.
Once you have all the must do of life in there, see if you can cut anything out. Can you write during lunch? How about during your commute (only if you use public transportation, please)? If you’ve blocked in television shows but you don’t have a lot of free time, you do realise most shows can be saved for later, right? This is NaNo. Make some sacrifices for your art.
2. Figure out how much time you need
Well before November, take the time to do some writing sprints. You either need to know how many words you write per sprint (twenty out of thirty minute chunks) or how long it takes you to write 500 words.
Do math. Sorry; there’s no way around this one. If you average 500 words in 30 minutes or less, I would just round it to 500. If you do 212, round it down (very important).
You need to write 2000 words per day. Trust me on this. None of this namby-pamby 1,667 words. Yes, that will get you to 50,000, but it won’t finish a book. You’ll have bad days and appreciate me pushing you.
Now, more math. If you write 500 words in 30 minutes and you need 2000 words in a day, you need to write for two hours. Doesn’t have to be two hours straight, but you need two hours. If you write 200 words in 30 minutes, you need five hours. (I recommend typing classes.)
Schedule in your writing time around your existing schedule. If you find a day where you can’t write the full 2000 words, do extra on another day. If you can’t schedule in enough time no matter what you do, then consider that you may be overbooked in your life and get a life coach. Or just ignore your other obligations for a month. Again, I’m not judging.