NaNoWriMo: Organizing Your Time

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This is the hardest part of NaNo.  Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I had a pretty open schedule.  I played in the backyard and hunted for butterflies and made crowns out of thistles.  OUCH, but sometimes one must suffer for their art.

Then I grew up, and time became currency.

We joke about the social toll that NaNoWriMo takes on us.  And that much is true, because if I’m going to crank out a coherent, cohesive novel during one of the busiest months of the year, you had better believe that I’m going to be scheduling my time!  No going out for a lingering lunch, no long, rambling phone calls.  My friends know that they’re important to me, but they’re not going to see me this month.  My first priority is my family.  My second is the novel.  The rest is superfluous.

Of course, life doesn’t scream to a grinding halt just because Mom is working on her novel.  There are children to dress, lunches to make, and a house to keep clean.  We’re still tackling the seizures head on, so there will be extra medical appointments.  My children still need to be snuggled, bathed, and sung to.  Oh, yeah, and fed.  People in this house like food.

So it all comes down to organization.  This is by no means my strong suit, but it’s amazing how things manage to figure themselves out when absolutely necessary.

I wake up and immediately get the house humming.  I unload the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry.  I chase my children around, get them dressed, and send one of them off to school.  Then it’s working out (which is so extremely necessary for a writer!  I’m even so stiff lately that I’m considering yoga again, and I despise yoga, but that’s another post), grocery shopping/errands/appointments,  playtime, and then nap time for the little one.  While she naps, I try to write.  Or I crash, if I’m exhausted from burning the candle at both ends.  The little one wakes up, the school bus returns, and our house explodes in a frenzy of Cookie Monsters and baby dolls.  But you know what?  My children are tiny.  They don’t understand “Mommy is right here, but she can’t talk to you right now.”  There is no office.  There is no door to shut.  And even if there was, I don’t think this is the time to shut it. Goodness knows that they’ll be shutting me out soon enough.   No, we’ll play outside and swing on swings and eat crisp autumn apples.  Daddy comes home.  Everybody is joyful.  Bath time and pajamas and bed.

That’s when I can really write.  At 9:00, my husband is banned from my sight.  9:00-11:00 is scheduled ONLY for NaNo.  No email.  No Twitter.  No surfing Amazon and (heaven forbid) webcomics.  No reading slush.  The gang at Shock Totem realizes that I’ll be scarce next month.  Heck, some of them are going to NaNo, too.

It sounds like a plan, but it’s hard.  I realize how much time that I really waste on the Internet, or flipping the TV station, or wandering around the house looking for things.  This is good because it makes me reevaluate everything that I do this month.  I’m forced to plan ahead, since we’re traveling for Thanksgiving.  I’m forced to cut everything that isn’t absolutely necessary.  It’s also a joy to realize how necessary family playtime is.  Sometimes I forget.

Not to mention that every spare minute (washing the dishes, driving through town) is spent daydreaming, plotting, and planning.  I eat, sleep, and breathe the characters.  It’s a year-long process all condensed into 30 days.  Talk about a rush!

So how about you?  How do you organize your time for NaNoWriMo?  What things do you have to add to your schedule or let go?

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10 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: Organizing Your Time

  1. I’m not doing Nano this year, but I think fondly of last year. I did a buttload of thinking. Plotting, mentally calculating how many words I needed on a given day, trying to push the plot further when it was stuck because I didn’t have the luxury of thinking it over for a few days.

    And, of course, assuring Ying that everything would go back to normal in December!

  2. Even though I’ve already said I’m not doing NaNo this year, I already know the answer to the question “what is your strategy for getting through NaNO”–and that answer is the reason I’ve decided not to participate:

    “Meth”

  3. I organize my time by moving the computer (thank goodness for laptop models) into the quietest place in the house and typing every five minutes I get. My internet time suffers but it is well worth it when I am done with it (even if it is junk, it is done junk) and I can move on and say, ‘Yes, I wrote a novel last month.’

  4. I’m not doing it this year, but I’m taking notes on how everyone else is going about it because next year I’m booking the whole month off.

    I’m hoping to write the third book, possibly the second (depending on how next year pans out), in the Nathan Steele series during NaNo 2010. If it works out, then NaNo will become my yearly writing holiday.

    So keep the advice coming, it’s all going into my little NaNo helpful tips book (actually, that’s probably not a bad idea for a book…).

  5. I am not sure how I will hand Nano this year, besides being one of the ML’s I am also starting a new job 3 days before Nano starts. I found out from my friend who I will be working with though that due to my position, I might get up to a full 2 hours for some of my lunches so I don’t go into too much overtime, so can we say, drag the laptop to my new job EVERYDAY!!! Also I plan to push through a good part of my writing at our local 72 hour write-athon…. Last year I got 10 to 12k of my word count done in that weekend, let’s see if that helps. Also it helped I was inspired from a Halloween concert on last years novel and got the first 5k or so done before mid morning on the 1st — I just wrote all night after the concert.

  6. My secret weapon is 45 minute playlists. This removes the clock watching anxiety. And using that commuting/standing in line/washing dishes time for purposeful daydreaming is critical to making those 45 minute blocks 100% typing time.

    I’m also planning daily walks. Walking is where my brain cleans house, so to speak. I find it crucial, even more so looking at many days of extended ass-in-chair hours.

  7. This is all new to me, Mercedes. I’m extremely disoganized to boot. I figure on getting up about 5:30am every weekday to get some time in before hustling our son to school and then my 8 to 5 workday. Maybe another bit in the evening, maybe. I figure the heavy stuff will be on the weekends…pah! The house can stay dirty for a month.

  8. Natalie, I hear you! I spend the entire holiday reassuring not only my husband, but also his entire family at Thanksgiving that I am not a negligent wife and mother. “This too shall pass, dagnabbit! Now pull up your garters and man up, people!” Wait…do I live in the Rocky Horror Picture Show?

    Samantha, the first year was the hardest but also the most fun. My wrists hurt like the dickens, though, and I had to get those little wraps for them.

    Jeremy…drugs are bad, m’kay?

    I do that, too, Jamie. Thank goodness for laptops. I even bought an adapter so I can use it in the car when we drive out of state for Thanksgiving.

    BT-it is HARD to turn everything off. Another tip? Cans of soup. Who has time for cooking that month?

    Laura, you’ll handle it with the grace and style that you always do. 🙂

    Trev, I’m so stealing that 45 minute CD idea. That’s so much gentler than my made-by-Satan screaming timer.

    Alan! You’re my hero! 😀

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