5 November 2015 - 6:24 pm

Why NNWM: long-term gains

AKA: It helps us to understand how and where we can make time to write

Part of the why NaNoWriMo is good for writers series.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are a lot of demands for our time and it can be difficult to fit writing into it all. It’s easy to say ‘I don’t have time’. NaNoWriMo opens a door to temporarily make time, but it can be more than that, too.

It doesn’t have to be only about explaining and diverting time to write for a short period of time. Being forced to shoehorn writing time into your schedule highlights those places you could take more advantage of, and helps us to critically examine our own assumptions about what we can and can’t do in the longer term.

This means looking for tactics and tools that can be applied year-round. NaNo encourages the daily writing habit (through daily wordcount goals, etc), and it gives you an opportunity to experiment with different solutions. Some of them are short-lived only (for example, I now take a lot of my annual leave from work during November), but others can be expanded into long-term habits.

This is where the annual writing challenge helped me greatly. Having to juggle NaNo (and MLing) and a full-time job meant that I had to be critical of my schedule in different ways in order to get everything achieved. I tried a few alternative ways to achieve my wordcounts – filling up my evenings rather than spending time with the family, binge-writing on the weekends and at write-ins to catch up, squeezing writing in to every moment of the day when my hands were idle, and so on – and eventually I discovered those pockets of time that I wasn’t making best use of (primarily, my daily commute to and from the day job). With some tweaking, these became my year-round writing times.

It requires understanding what’s sustainable and what’s not, and sometimes making sacrifices. That’s going to vary from person to person, depending on their dedication to spinning stories and the flexibility in their schedules and commitments.

This is an area where NaNo shines a light for us, and the beam may extend far beyond November’s boundaries if we choose to tilt it that way. So use it. Find that time you never knew you had and make stories in it.

Coming soon: a wonderful opportunity

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