A NaNo Novel & More

Planning: Time Off

I know — if you’re doing NaNo, you’re probably in a semi-frenzy at the moment, thinking about writing a novel, planning the novel, planning how to handle the rest of your life while your head is down, putting words on the page. You’re probably thinking: “This is the dumbest idea ever” or “I’m just going to bow out now” or “There’s no freaking way I’m going to finish this.”

You’re probably not thinking about time off. But I’m going to urge you to do just that. You can’t write for 30 days straight and not have your brain go bonk. Not even for something as awesome as NaNoWriMo. In order to win NaNo, you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Most people divide 50,000 by 30 and end up with a goal of 1,667 words per day. If, however, you schedule yourself with three full days off (probably won’t need one the first week, because you’ve been chomping at the bit) and you divide 50,000 by 27 days instead, you end up having to write 1851 words per day. Barely two hundred more each day. And you’ve now got three whole days in which you can back off a little bit from your novel and breathe some. It can reinvigorate you. And if you choose the days ahead of time, it can give you something to look forward to.

Of course, time off doesn’t work for everyone — for some, it means it’s hard to get back to the writing. For others, they must have the same routine every day in order to continue to write. If you’re one of those people, time off might be a bad idea. However, think of it this way: If you still aim for 1851 words per day, it will give you a little extra padding for that final week when you’re running out of steam.

I trick myself in just that way: I pretend the goal for NaNo is 60,000 words, which means I must write 2,000 words per day. This is easy the first week, a little harder the second, much harder the third, and feeling near impossible by the fourth. But I’m already ahead of the game, so by then, falling behind isn’t as big of a deal. And I have my three days off planned out — all three in a row, while I’ll be heading off to the Steampunk Convention in Seattle, Nov. 19-21. Something to look forward to, a place where I’ll be inspired, and three days off to return to the real world and take a breather before I plunge back in for the final week.

Far along the moonlit path, s.



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