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In an ideal world, we'd all hide away in a remote cabin (or castle!!) during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). We'd have no distractions, nothing to stand in the way of meeting our word count goals. Unfortunately, for most of us that isn't reality. We have work, family obligations, school deadlines, and a million other things to content with our writing time.
So how do you balance life/work/family while still setting aside time to win NaNoWriMo?
The secret: Preparation.
And we're not talking about preparing to write a first draft or how to outline or plot your novel before NaNo; today we're talking about how to prepare your life for a successful month of writing. We've put together our best tips to help you get ready. Take a look, and decide what you can do NOW to have an amazing, successful NaNoWriMo experience this November.
How to Prepare (Your Life) for a Successful NaNoWriMo Experience
1. Start early
Okay, we already said this, but it's worth repeating! Set aside time to prepare for NaNoWriMo NOW. Not on November 1st. You'll appreciate the preparation you do this month - it'll give you more time to focus on writing in November, instead of leaving you scrambling and rushing to get everything done.
Activity: Schedule it in! Add NaNoWriMo Prep (and not just for your novel) to your schedule this week.
2. Prep your kitchen
Making food for yourself (or your family) can be time consuming, and a great way to make extra time for yourself in November is to prep ahead. There are a number of ways to do so. Examples:
- Set aside 2 hours on Sundays to prep lunches or breakfasts.
- Make-ahead dinners during the rest of October and freeze them, so you'll have quick dinners to eat during November.
- Come up with quick ready-to-go meal ideas for lunches. Here's a tip about make-ahead lunches from Bonny Kitty Cutlass (a.k.a. Kathryn Holmes):
Lately, I've been doing make-ahead lunches to eat three to five days during a given week. I love the time saved on those days—and it's nice to have a healthy meal ready to go, instead of turning to prepackaged food. Salads are especially good for this, because you can do all the chopping and other prep ahead of time. Pictured is my take on a salad niçoise: baby spinach, string beans, fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes, tuna, egg, cranberries, and balsamic vinaigrette. Your ahead-of-time tasks: trim and steam string beans, halve and boil potatoes, hard-boil eggs, slice tomatoes. Assembling the prepared ingredients took less than five minutes—and the result was delicious and filling!
Activity: Using the links above, find meals you can make ahead this month. Also brainstorm quick lunches & meals. Make a list of what works for you, then start cooking!
3. Streamline your free time
NaNoWriMo is only one month out of your entire year. Is there anything you can streamline during the month to buy yourself extra writing time?
Perhaps you watch 3 hours of television a week, can you cut down to 1 hour? Remember, it's just one month, and that simple change would buy you 8 extra hours of writing in November!
Activity: Make a list of how you spend your free time, and think about where you could trim and cut -- it's just for one month, and you'll be amazed by how much writing time you can create by streamlining your free time!
4. Schedule in your writing time
Instead of making your writing time a last-minute or chance event, make it a priority. Carve out time for your writing, then schedule it in. Add reminders to your online calendar, or write into your planner.
Also, take a look at your existing schedule. Do you have family events coming up? Work or school deadlines? Plan your writing time accordingly. Perhaps you'll need to write more during the beginning of November (because of Thanksgiving-related plans at the end of the month), or vice versa. By preparing now, you can be sure to have enough time to meet your writing goals.
Activity: Schedule in your writing time & make sure to plan around events or deadlines.
5. Tell your friends and family
During November, you might choose to skip out on certain gatherings or events to give yourself extra writing time. For you, you're streamlining your schedule to make time for an important goal, but your family and friends might not understand why you stopped going to happy hour or can't join the Lord of the Rings marathon night and instead are spending all of your free time at your computer. They also won't know that it's only one month - not unless you tell them. Avoid this by being open, and tell your friends and family what you're trying to accomplish. Most will applaud your determination and drive, and might even help keep you honest ("Mom, aren't you supposed to be writing?"). ;)
Activity: Once you commit to NaNoWriMo, tell your friends and family about it. Give them an idea of what your schedule will be like (and/or which activities you will/won't have time for during November).
Those are our tips for preparing for a successful NaNoWriMo, but we'd love to hear your thoughts.
How do you get ready for NaNoWriMo? Comment below!