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NaNoWriMo Type Along with Stephen Deas – Week Two

Follow along as Stephen Daes shares his week by week experience doing NaNoWriMo.

If you missed Stephen’s intro article, you can read it here.

If you missed week one, you can read it here.

November 11th

Wordcount target: 30,000
Words written: 23,240

A third of the way through and after a poor start, the gist is that I’m holding my own against the wordcount demon. I talked last week about the difficulties of getting started and a few ways to try and overcome that first hurdle; this week I’m going to offer some suggestions aimed at keeping that momentum going (and also a couple of things I got wrong).

A Little More About Planning

A Thoughtful Life by Deborah DeWitIt depends on who you are and how you tick, but if you’ve got a rhythm going and you’re steadily writing words, consider adjusting your plan. You should be pleased that you’re writing, not stressed that you haven’t exactly hit some arbitrary number. On the other hand, if chasing a number gets you going (it kind of works for me) and you’re on target, consider stretching that target. While I guess I recommend having a plan at the start of the month (if you’re explicit target is to ‘do nano’ and write 50k words through November), plans are your servants, not your masters. They’re supposed to help you, not drive you (unless that’s the help you wanted from them). They should change and adapt continually.

I have discovered, for example, that having the weekends kept free to catch up was useful (I almost did). I have also discovered that I should probably have much lesser ambitions for Mondays as, for various reasons, they seems to involve a lot more life-clutter than the rest of the week (writing this, for example). I probably ought to write off Mondays.

Dammit, how is it that even as a professional layabout author, Mondays still suck.

Writer Writing Days

The wonderful thing about being a professional full-time writer is that you get to slob about doing the stuff you want to do and occasionally writing bit. You have to look after yourself. You have to keep the muse happy and content – in fact, this is how every author’s lifestyle looks, right? RIGHT?

7:00am to 8:30am – Slouch in bed. Have someone bring coffee. Nice coffee. Write 1500 words.
8:30am to 9:30am – Sex. Someone brings breakfast.
9:30am to 10:30am – Write 1000 words.
10:30am to Midday – Work out at the gym. Shower.
Midday to 1:00pm – Write 1000 words.
1:00pm to 3:00pm – Someone brings lunch. NICE lunch. Eat lunch while watching an episode of Elementary. Spend an hour playing that freebie of Assassin’s Creed IV that you got for writing that tie-in novel you did.
3:00pm to 4:00pm – Write 1000 words.
4:00pm to 5:00pm – Reading time. Receive a backrub or massage.
5:00pm to 6:30pm – Write 1500 words.
6:30pm to 8:30pm – Watch movie. Someone brings supper. NICE supper. Eat tub of ice cream, preferably Ben and Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide even though they don’t make it any more (boo! Hiss! BAD Ben and Jerry’s.)
8:30pm to 9:30pm – Write 1000 words.
9:30pm to 10:30pm – Wine. Another episode of Elementary or maybe Justified this time while being doted on hand and foot by your partner. May include a footrub.
10:30pm to ??? – More sex. Good sex. Sleep.

So that’s 7000 words done and this is pretty much how every professional writer’s daily routine looks…

Oh, wait, no it isn’t. Daydreaming there for a moment.

But I’d suggest that everyone should have days like this from time to time (obviously if you’re not a writer then spend the writing time on more Assassin’s Creed, Elementary and ice cream, but then excuse me but why are you even reading this). Sometimes you just have to kick the rest of life out of the way and have a day that’s just for you (and the words). It’s probably hopelessly unrealistic for most people to set aside a day like that all that often but if you can, do. Some days you have to treat yourself. Write a thousand words, have a treat, repeat until book finished. Or a chapter two at least. Don’t count words and don’t overrun the writing time too much. DO tell the rest of the world to sod off and leave you alone. No chores, no cleaning, no tidying, no shopping, no school run, no phone calls, no Twitter, no blog posts, no anything at all that can be done either the day before or the day after.

Get Off The Internet

I 2:00 AM by any-s-killdon’t need to go into this one, surely? I mean everyone knows about how Twitter and so forth devour a writer’s time like rust at the edges of a wreck. I used to think I was sufficiently antisocial not to be bothered by this but I’ve tripped myself up by writing something that has a historical setting and thus requires research now and then (I’ll come back to that topic next week). And so every five minutes I found myself looking something up on Wikipedia and then, because it was open, checking mail and reading Twitter and, surprise, surprise, writing half the words I should have written.

By accident, I have found it immensely useful to have an internet-disabled writing laptop and a second machine that IS connected to the internet. I find I switch between them much more reluctantly than I used to switch between different windows on the same machine. I also find I go looking things up when I really, really need to and not just when I’m wondering what colour a Jacobean hat might have been. So if getting off the internet is a problem, that’s another way of disabling it, I suppose.

Work Somewhere Else

Another suggestion you’ve surely heard a hundred times: try changing where you do your writing. I suggest you do that anyway, even if you’re perfectly happy with where you were, just to try it out. Different locations offer different inspirations and different distractions.


Book Lift by PopElegantiarumI discovered some time ago that if I sat down to write immediately after a session at the gym (and I mean immediately after), I would almost exactly double my output for the next hour. Double it. I refer you back to the daily schedule above, because double output for an hour means an extra hour of Assassin’s Creed, Elementary, ice cream and/or…er…other stuff. Possibly all four at once if I can figure a way at some point.

Well you might allow yourself a shower if you’re going to be working around other people but the general aim is to get from working out to writing as quickly as possible. Try it and see what happens. I’m not entirely sure what’s at work here but I suspect it’s a combination of having some time to mull over what’s going on in the plot and any story issues while you actually work out (or run or go for a walk or whatever gets the blood going) and being pretty pumped up by the end. Raised metabolic rates and stuff like that about which I know next to nothing. My fingers are more fluid and type faster and my thinking is faster too. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend giving it a go to see how it feels.

That’s it for this week and that’s probably as many productivity tricks as I’m going to come up with. Next week I want to talk about problems and how to get past them, probably mostly with a bulldozer.

Title image by Deborah Dewit.


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  1. […] and writing a series of articles for Fantasy Faction about it (you can read the latest of them here if you like). In future, it’s likely that whenever I have the urge to go have a rant about […]

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