Every November writers around the world go through an unusual rite of passage -- NaNoWriMo. Short for National Novel Writing Month, this event (known as NaNo to those who experience it) pits person against machine, daring writers to complete a 50,000 word short novel in one single month. Those who finish that word count by midnight on November 30 are said to have "won" NaNo, although it's a moral victory at best, as you only win a certificate to print out and bragging rights. It takes some great tactics to win NaNo, but they're habits and techniques writers can use just as much during the rest of the year.
One Step at a Time
Shoveling 50,000 words onto a screen may seem like an unbelievable task, but writers and self published authors who succeed know the trick is to break it down into bite-sized chunks. The goal for NaNo is 1,667 words a day without a break, but you can write books successfully with an even more modest goal. If you write 1,000 words a day, five days a week, you'll end up with enough words to fill three novels at the end of the year (well, two if you write Stephen King-length books), and that's with taking two weeks off for vacation. 1,000 words is doable for just about any writer, and can be fit easily into almost any schedule.
Well, not literally, but don't worry about every single word being deathless prose. C.J. Cherryh said, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly.” That's the key to getting your books written and published on a regular basis. Never edit as you go, just sit down and let the words pour out of your mind and onto the screen. Everything can be fixed in the editing process.
Little Chunks of Time
If you estimate that 1,000 words will take you two hours a day, you've got two choices: write faster or find the time. While practicing your typing (especially if you're a two-finger jockey) will up your word count, the best way to find writing time is to look for tiny chunks throughout the day. Get done eating lunch ten minutes before getting back to work? Do a couple of hundred words. Kids get up at 7:00 every morning? Wake up at 6:30 to get that half hour. NaNo participants learn to find time to write everywhere, from during television commercials to sitting in football stands. It all adds up.
A writer's tribe is anyone involved in his process, and can help him along the way. NaNo has a built-in tribe of fellow writers, including a forum for exchanging ideas. Writing may be a solitary occupation, but every writer needs others to improve their work. Create a writing group in your city. Find beta readers and exchange texts during lunch dates. Talk about your characters with friends to see how they react to their antics. Even the greatest writers in the world have help with their work, and they take it where ever they can find it.
See these blogs for more great tips for finding time to write in your life:
Keep the Faith and May the Force Be With You!