Ready or not, Prep-tober is wrapping up and NaNoWriMo is upon us. We have created our plot outlines, made character info sheets, and brainstormed worlds and extra details. What’s left is organizing yourself to ensure NaNo success!
This week, we have guest Author Erin Thompson providing useful insights, including ways to psych yourself up and get organized for NaNo. As someone who has written, edited, and published her recent debut novel The Wedding Planners she know just how rigorous a process book-writing can be.
Organization & Time Management
By Erin Thomson
NaNoWriMo is under a week away. Less than seven days. How are you feeling? Excited? Nervous? Jittery at the thought of all the coffee you’ll be drinking during the next month? Regretting the decision to announce you were taking part and now feel like you need to follow through? Maybe that last one’s just me… However you’re feeling it’s time to put the finishing touches on Preptober and kick NaNo’s butt in the nicest possible way.
I think the main thing about any organisation or time management is reducing the time it takes to get writing. I’m sure I’ve seen some productivity expert say that in a much classier way, but I don’t remember it, so here we are.
You want it to be as easy as possible to sit down and get the words onto the page.
First up: FIND (or make) YOUR TIME
Morning, afternoon, evening. It doesn’t matter when, it just matters that you can carve some time out of your day that is dedicated to writing. For me, it’s first thing in the morning—I’m talking pre-dawn—when it’s dark and quiet and the rest of the house is still asleep. Some days that alarm is seriously rude, but I rarely regret it, especially if it’s the only time I get to write that day. So ask yourself, where is there time in my day that can be writing time?
Don’t have one chunk of time where you can get the words down? That’s okay too. I often find myself having to break up my writing over the course of the day. Waiting in the car at pick up? Write. Got a few minutes in the check out like at the supermarket? Write. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 15 minutes. All those little sessions can really add up and before you know it, you’ve smashed your word count goal for the day! Great job, you deserve a cookie.
Next up: SCHEDULE IT IN
You’ve figured out your best time to write, now, how are you going to make sure you don’t hit snooze or pick up a book or mindlessly scroll socials instead? Treat your writing time like any other meeting or appointment. Prioritise it. Whether you’ve got one large bit of time or your snatching bite size moments, put them in your calendar. Set reminders. Don’t give yourself the option of choosing something else. Bottom line, you’re making your writing time non-negotiable.
Now you’re ready to: SET UP A SPACE
You know when you’re going to write (and you’ve put it in your calendar, maybe for the whole month if you’re super motivated) next up let’s look at where you’re going to get those words down.
If you’ve got a dedicated office or other space for your writing, that’s amazing (and I am supremely jealous). But if not, that’s ok, is there a corner that you can claim as your writing zone for the month of November (and maybe beyond)? It doesn’t need to be much, but you do need to be comfortable and feel motivated when you’re there. Do the words flow better with a candle? Music? Get all of those extras and have them easily accessible.
Which brings us to: COLLECT THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Are you a dedicated laptop writer? Or do the words only flow when there’s a pen in your hand? Maybe it’s a mix of the two, or depends on your mood. However, you write you’ll want to be prepared.
Use NaNo as an excuse to bust out that notebook you’ve been too scared to write in, or better yet, buy a new one (I am happy to enable all stationery purchases where required).
If you’re on your laptop make sure you also have the charge cable handy, nothing pulls you out of the zone faster than realising you’ve only got 5% charge left and no idea where you left the charger (this also feels like the right time to remind you to back up your work!)
It’s time to: DITCH DISTRACTIONS
Picture it. You’re in your writing space, with your instrumental lofi playing, your fingers hover over the keyboard, or notebook, and… your phone rings. And look it might be important, but more likely it’s something that definitely could have waited that hour you’d be writing. If this is the only bit of time you get to write that day, you need to make the most of it!
Put your phone on do not disturb. If you can, let anyone in your household know that you will not be contactable for snacks, drinks, or anything else they desperately need. Now go write.
And lastly: DON’T BE A D*CK (to yourself)
This isn’t specifically organisation or time management related, but it’s still important. You need to remember that this is supposed to be fun. Tear your hair out, cry a little, maybe be tempted to throw your laptop out the window fun. If you smash your word count goals everyday, that’s amazing! But if you don’t, that doesn’t mean you’re slack or a terrible writer or any of the other things your self doubt and imposter syndrome will try to tell you.
You’ve got this! Happy writing!
Helpful Resources for prepping and planning
- Developing a writing process
- Writer’s self-discipline
- Tips for setting achievable deadlines
- Tips for using a book bible
- Final Prep-tober Checklist
More about Erin
Erin was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. She is a mama of two, lover of nachos, baker of cracking chocolate cake and writer of swoony, steamy romances. The first of which, The Wedding Planners is out now.
Learn more about our featured author at erinthomsonauthor.com and follow her on Instagram @authorerinthomson
Thanks for reading! Reach out with any requests for future content or to share your Prep-tober/NaNoWriMo journey with me!