Isn’t it funny how, if we want something strongly enough, we will make it happen? November is always a fun month for me. No matter what is going on around me in life, this is the month where I participate in the National Novel Writing Month, the crazy event where participants write 50 000 words in 30 days. I am the most productive with my creative writing during this one month, than I am in the rest of the year.
This is my 15th year competing. I have completed this challenge for the past 14 years in a row, and I am a stubborn person, so gosh darn it I am going to do it again. As I write this, I sit close to 30 000 words. The story is going along well. There are conflicts, gun fights, murders to solve, aliens to frame for it. You know, all the usual stuff.
My history of Novembers has been rather colourful. I have been fully employed in a 9-5 job while writing, and then I was made redundant, in November, from that very same job. I have been fully unemployed and looking for work, employed in a horrible, soul sucking job. I have been freelancing, super unwell, and healthy as a peach. Some years I have cruised to 60 or 70 thousand words easily. Other I have crawled over the 50k finish line with barely hours to spare.
Yet, no matter the conditions, I have always managed to fit writing in between all the other tasks in my life. This year, I have Swinburne teaching and marking a lot of assignments. I have blogs and web content for multiple clients. And I have had night time events squeezing more time out of me.
And yet, I am in front of the daily word count, just. I did get close to par on the weekend, but a good Sunday afternoon writing session got me back out in front.
But why is it only during November that, even with all this crazy use of my time, am I still squeezing in more writing time into my busy day? And why am I not doing this during the rest of the year?
There is a lot about November which can be useful in my everyday life the other 11 months of the year. Prioritising tasks, finding ways to lessen my distraction when writing my novel, ways to focus, ways to motivate, time management plus knowing when to switch off and get a break from writing and the computer.
PROCRASTINATION AND DISTRACTION
I am easily distracted by shiny things, I know. Procrastination, going over here for something when you should be focussed on the task at hand, is about instant gratification. We want to do something and have it done now, so it feels like we’ve achieved a thing. Switch windows and have a quick play of a game. Phone buzzes, let’s check Facebook.
My weekend writing effort which netted me close to 4000 words, I had my laptop’s Wifi turned off, and my phone confiscated. And you know what? I survived! I know what I have to do to lessen the distractions, but do I apply this to normal everyday writing? Nope.
What will I do?
More sessions where the wifi is off. More sessions where the phone is off. But that is fine for my laptop, but what about my desktop here? It is plugged into the internet.
There are some websites you can use to write and not be distracted, such as Writer or Die. If you stop writing, this website begins to delete your work. That is a scary thing to see.
Another great little app is Freedom – which blocks websites and apps which are distracting you. You set up a timer, and the only way to get back to these websites is by waiting for the timer to end, or by restarting your computer.
Ways to Motivate
Rewards are a great way to motivate. I am rewarding myself when I hit 50k words in the novel, not sure what with yet, but I will.
But smaller rewards? Don’t have that third cup of coffee until you have finished this thing. Or, get up and go for a walk to the bakery once you’ve written the next blog article. Rewards which get you out of the chair and walking are always good.
Knowing what works, and implementing them are two different things. How do you stay focussed, what works for you? What tips do you have for the easily distracted?