Today we launch NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This challenge is to see if we can write 50,000 words in a month. Though 50,000 words is not quite a novel, it IS a professional pace and for those who are new? This is probably going to feel like running a marathon the day after making a resolution to actually use that gym membership. It will push you.
Whether or not you are doing NaNo, these tips will help you go pro because for the pros? Every month is NaNoWriMo.
Most of us are going to have to work a day job and write. We also have a family and like me, you probably have spoiled them by actually feeding them every day. The world is not going to pause because we are writing a book.
Other writers frequently ask how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of a fruit fly…with a bad crack habit. Here are 10 ways to help you be productive even if OOH! SHINY!
…even if you tend to be
a tad majorly ADD. The following tips are what help ME stay focused. I am NOT a doctor or psychologist or ADD expert. I’m a Jedi master, warp engine inspector, and WRITER so you get what you get.
1. Make lists.
I get distracted easily, so a list reminds me of what I need to get accomplished. I make separate lists—housework, fiction, non-fiction, business stuff, global domination using sea monkeys. Then, once I have the list, I do the hardest thing on my writing and business lists FIRST (housework can WAIT).
Like Covey says…
Never mistake the urgent for the important.
Do that NaNo word count right away. Just get it DONE.
2. Understand that feelings are pathological liars.
Writing is a profession, not a playpen.
Professionals ignore their feelings and do it anyway. Only children, amateurs and spirit mediums listen to their feelings. Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work and a tad pissed that you no longer hang out with them as much as you used to. The secret to success is to work your tail off. Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others. Be willing to do what others won’t.
But I wanna write books. I don’t wanna do social media, toooooo. It’s haaaaard.
Yes. It is. There are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.
3. Use The Force…of Self-Discipline
Who cares HOW you get things done, so long as they get done?
I use the “Swiss Cheese” approach. I have my list and I take bite after bite after bite until the work is finished. Every book can be written in 250, 500, or 1,000 word bites. I CANNOT work linearly, so I don’t try and yes I was always in trouble in school but public schools were designed to train factory workers and corporate mind slaves, not people who get paid to play with imaginary friends.
4. Mix it up.
I am a writer, wife, entrepreneur, teacher, and mom who has yet to make enough money to afford servants (which sucks), and cats make lousy slaves. This means I get to do most of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and housework. Write your 200 words, fold a load of whites, empty the dishwasher, then write another 200 words.
I LOVE audio books. I can always tell writers who don’t read. Want to be a great author? Read as much as humanly possible. I listen to audio books while doing housework. It makes the dishes go faster and hones my skills.
And I don’t want to hear, Oh well when I am writing I don’t like to read because that author’s voice will bleed over into my work.
All I have to say about that is If only you could be that frigging lucky!
Yes, please let Gillian Flynn infiltrate and hijack my work. Like NOW!
5. Suck it up, Buttercup.
Understand that sometimes we will have to sit for a long time and focus. It’s hard. Whaaaaaaahhhhh, but anyone who thinks being a writer is a fluffy hamster dream has been hanging out with their feelings…and feelings lie, sabotage and will talk you into living on ice cream and cookie sprinkles.
6. Make mean writer friends.
Yes, the Swiss Cheese approach works well for people with ADD, and yes, there are times we need to duct tape our a$$es to the chair. This is why I befriend really mean people who kinda scare me. On the surface my friends are funny and sweet and would do anything for a friend…but that’s the issue. They will do anything for a friend, including ordering a hit on my television.
Come hang out on WANATribe. It is a Ning I created just for writers and guess what? It is all writing all the time and no one spams or trolls or talks about the election because I am a loving but vengeful god and will smite them. So if you need to escape Facebook and find those mean friends? We are there. We have been doing sprints in the Main Room IM for A YEAR.
I kick your @$$ every day free of charge.
*polishes riding crop*
7. Ditch loser friends.
We all have them or have had them. People who like to complain, make excuses, indulge in their feelings all the time.
Ditch writers (and other people) who believe in luck, not work. Laziness, apathy, and whining are contagious. Treat excuses like EBOLA. A friend coughs
blood excuses all over you, and, within two to three days, you start coughing up blood excuses, too…until your dream of being a writer liquifies and bleeds out and I hope you’re happy with yourself.
8. Forget perfection.
Perfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings (because Feelings are a needy boyfriend/girlfriend who don’t understand the world does not revolve around them.)
The world doesn’t reward perfection; it rewards finishers.
This is the big lesson NaNo is really trying to teach you. Often we lose focus on what we are REALLY doing, because we are getting sidetracked with nitpicking. Guess what, no half-finished novel ever became a runaway best-seller…but more than a few crappy-but-finished ones have.
Often ADD can be fueled by being too sedentary. Human bodies were not designed to sit on their @$$e$ all day. Ever have a puppy that chews everything and is into everything and short of strapping itself to a rocket is just being a GIANT PAIN IN THE @$$?
How do you get it to behave? Put on roller blades and run puppy until puppy wants to slip into something more comfortable…like a coma. ADD people are human puppies, so stop piddling on the carpet…I mean, go get a little exercise and your focus will generally improve.
Again, I strongly recommend audio books. I walk every day and I have made my way through a large chunk of the NYTBS list.
10. Drink lots of water.
Human bodies are a hydroelectric system, and water enhances conductivity. Cool writer ideas/thoughts work this way. Muse Pixies of Awesomeness are conducted through your brain to your fingers and they bring the cool story stuff. MPAs like to travel via fairy, or ferry on WATER. They can’t travel if the waterways are too dry and moor them on a cookie sprinkle…and then you can’t focus.
It’s science. Don’t argue.
I hope these tips help, because finishing NaNo is no easy task. In fact, I am about to get to MY word count for the day and yes I am over on WANATribe. Again, if you NEED help and accountability I am there five days a week no matter what so no excuses. Last year everyone who sprinted finished Nano in record time…because they had to keep up with me (I finished in 11 days). If you want to really experience the professional pace, come join me.
Those of you ADD folk out there who’ve paid attention to this point, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!!
…now back in your hole.
It writes the words or it gets the hose O_o.
What are your thoughts? Struggles? Tips? Words of wisdom. It’s okay. You have permission to get back in your hole after you comment :D.
It rubs the elbow grease on. IT RUBS THE ELBOW GREASE ON! *pets fluffy white dog*
I love hearing from you!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of NOVEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel. I will announce October’s winner shortly. Just got back from LA and need time to catch up.