The winner of the NaNoWriMo Countdown giveaway is:
traveler, who wrote: Writing with index cards is my most practical item.
Traveler, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to address to LynnViehl@aol.com so I can get your package out to you. My thanks to everyone for joining in and offering so many ideas on things to help with National Novel Writing Month.
In order to win NaNoWriMo 2012 we have to write 50,000 words during the month of November, and it's a good idea to set reasonable, regularly-scheduled writing goals in order to reach the finish line. If you're plan is to write every day for those thirty days then producing 1,667 words per day (about six and a half typed, double-spaced manuscript pages) is your goal. Writers who want to take off the weekends (and there's nothing wrong with that) will still have 22 week days to write, which raises the daily goal to 2,273, or about nine manuscript pages per week day. Holidays in November include Remembrance Day (Canada, UK), Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day (U.S.) which should also be factored in. I have family coming to visit for a four-day weekend, and I want to spend those days with them, so I've planned to write for 26 days. To accomodate that, my NaNo daily writing goal will be 1,923 words, or about seven and a half manuscript pages per day.
You can work out how many hours you'll need for your daily writing session by writing every day for a couple of days and noting each day how many hours you write and how many words you produce. Once you've done that, average them out. If you work twenty-one hours in a week, and produce a total of 12,600 words, then you write about 600 words or about two and a half pages per hour. I can write up to 2,500 words or ten pages an hour if I have to, but the pace that's more comfortable for me is 1000 words or four pages per hour, so I'll be working on the NaNo novel about two and a half hours a day (two hours of writing + three ten minute breaks.)
Speaking of breaks, you should allow yourself at least one during your writing sessions, and make it a real break. Get up and get out of your writing space. Stretch and loosen up your muscles. Take a walk around the house or the yard. You should also keep hydrated, and if you're hungry, have a sensible snack. I don't eat or drink anymore when I'm writing, so I like a cup of tea and a snack during my breaks (bananas and strawberries are my favorite.) I don't use sugar anymore but even back when I did I wouldn't have anything sugary while I was writing; it made me too restless.
My daily NaNoWriMo sessions are loosely scheduled now to be from 7 am to 9:30 am, but I'll probably have some days when I start at 6 am or 8 am or some other morning hour. My daily edit of whatever I write will be after dinner, probably around 9 to 10 pm just before I update my weblog and finish out my e-mail. I like a long break between writing and editing so I can shift gears.
Of course you don't have to plan exactly when and how often you'll have your writing sessions during November, and it may be counterproductive to your process to do so. But if it doesn't bother you to schedule your writing time then you should take a look at it. Most of you have days jobs, and when I was working I would get up an hour early and write while the house was quiet, write again during my lunch hour at work, and then spend another hour or two working on my stories at night after everyone went to bed. Short writing sessions can seem frustrating at first -- by the time you've gotten really warmed up they're over -- but I found that I began unconsciously writing faster. Those short sessions also made me see how important it was for me to separate the writing and editing process so I didn't waste my brief amount of writing time backtracking and fixing things.
You may have to sacrifice a few things to create writing time for yourself, but if you're smart you don't have deprive yourself or let your household descend into chaos. For example, record your favorite television shows instead of watching them live and you'll probably buy yourself at least seven to ten extra hours of writing time per week. You can glom on the recorded shows all you want after November, or maybe use them as a reward for making your weekly wordcount goal -- if you meet yur quota, allow yourself an hour to watch one.
If your family is supportive, ask them to help out, too. I did, and my daughter volunteered to cook three nights a week during November, which will give me an extra six to nine hours to focus on work. Since she took culinary classes in high school and is a great improvisational cook like her grandfather I'm looking forward to some fabulous meals. My guy will take over the morning walk with the dogs; he'll also vacuum, do dishes and laundry and attend to any other chore I request. This is one of the reasons why I love him: the man cleans bathrooms.
Finally, do what you can this last week before NaNoWriMo to get your life ready for this. I've been keeping up with my housework and laundry so my house and my crew will be tidy going into November. I'm making double batches of everything freezable (chili, pasta sauce, soup and casseroles) so I'll have an extra week of entrees I just have to defrost and serve. I'm also going to make some slow cooker (crock pot) recipes next month, which will be great with the cooler weather. I've paid all the bills in advance and cleared the calendar of appointments as much as possible, and I'm writing as many blog posts in advance as I can so I have a good stockpile of those for days when I'm too tired to post anything coherent or useful.
Do you have any tips to share on how to save time, create opportunities to write or otherwise improve writing sessions during NaNoWriMo? Let us know in comments.