NaNoWriMo 2016 is upon us! This will be my 5th year participating and my 4th consecutive NaNoWriMo as well. I love it. Mostly because it gives me great motivation to pump out a novel. My writing friends are also doing it, so it also provides a little bit of friendly competition. Each time I’ve done NaNoWriMo, I have successfully written 50,000 words before November ended.
I’m not saying that because it’s easy. On the contrary, each time provided a unique set of obstacles for me to overcome. The things that would keep me from completing the 50K words started small, but each year a new difficulty was added (keeping the older ones, of course), until here we are in 2016, and I’m in for a dickens of a time.
Here’s what I have competing for my time (in no particular order):
- My family.
Last year we had a baby in June, so I already know how to take care of a wee child. But we just had another baby just over a month ago. So instead of just one infant to deal with, now there are two! But I love them dearly and, let’s face it, they’re more important than my writing anyway, so should the need arise, they take top priority.
Speaking of top priority…
Monday is our family night. Nothing is scheduled that night, not even my writing. Friday is date night. I need time with my wife, and she needs time with me. In fact, I made sure she was ok with me spending every bit of free time writing this month. Because she’s awesome, she smiles and gives me the go-ahead. There’s no way we’re not having our weekly date night just so I can write.
Saturday is do-everything-that-didn’t-get-done-during-the-week day, as well as scouts. Because of this, there’s usually little or no time for writing. And then there’s Sunday, the day of much needed rest. I don’t write on Sunday. While enjoyable, it’s also a form of work, and for me, that’s not something I want to spend time on during the Lord’s day.
That leaves me with three evenings a week to write. Not a whole lot.
2. My Job
Obviously, I can’t write during my work hours. As nice as that would be, it just ain’t happening. But what about lunch hour, you ask?
Well, I will be doing that, but I still need to update my blog at least once a week. So one of those five lunch breaks will be dedicated to that (as I’m doing now).
But it’s never that simple, is it?
3. Freelance Work
I do some freelance writing on the side. I haven’t had a side project in a few months, which I was fine with, because I was happy to have the time for other things. Well, earlier this week I was asked to write another article. Since all my other free writing time is in the evenings, I must use some more lunch hours to finish those other articles. Not that I’m complaining; I love the work. But it does make it more difficult to reach 50,000 words in 30 days.
4. Lack of Sleep
If you’ve ever had a baby, you might be aware that they don’t sleep through the night very well. Neither do I, on a good day, but newborns have an even worse time of it! Our little guy (bless his heart) struggles to sleep well (he’s kind of gassy, and that keeps him up). If he doesn’t sleep well, neither do I. And then I wake up early to go to work.
That effects me.
Just last night, while writing my novel, I kept switching tenses without meaning to. And I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to avoid doing that. I was so tired, my brain wasn’t functioning very well. I had to call it a night before I wanted to (still, I wrote more than I thought I would be able to in four hours).
And then there’s always the random, unexpected things that creep up and take away my time. In all, I have about 12 hours of scheduled writing time for three evenings each week. Then there’s whatever I can scrounge up during lunch. That’s not a lot, considering my end goal. But, I knew it would be difficult going into this.
To prepare, I outlined more than I have before (I used to be a hardcore pantser; now I’m an outliner with some pantsing on the side). By outlining, I know where my story will go and I won’t have to spend precious minutes (or hours) trying to figure out where to go next. So far (after one night) it’s working.
Now, I don’t tell you all my woes and time constraints to complain of give myself an excuse should I fail. I tell you this in hopes that you can see a bit of yourself in me and think, “Yeah, I’m busy, too. But I think I’ll give it a go, anyway. Maybe I can do it.”
And yes, fair reader, yes you can.
And you know what? If November ends and you’re still not at that 50,000 word mark, that’s ok! What matters is you started, and you kept going. The point of this whole escapade isn’t to out-write anyone else; it’s for you to put words on paper, no matter how little or how many you can.
You’re a writer. Writing is hard. And, if you’re like me and have various things vying for your precious time, then it can be even harder. But don’t give up. Keep going.
You got this.
How are you holding up with your time constraints during NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments!
Click the image to read the short story, A Drink for Death: