Every year, we’re lucky to have great sponsors for our nonprofit events. This week, we’re focusing on helping you find the time in your busy schedule to sit down and write a novel next month. RescueTime, a NaNoWriMo 2018 sponsor, is here today with some helpful time management tips:
Like any major creative project, writing a novel in just 30 days takes serious dedication. But even more than that, it takes mastery of your daily schedule, habits, routines, and focus.
As John Grisham, author of more than 35 New York Times-bestselling novels explains:
“Routine is what it’s all about. You’ve got to get into a [writing] routine that is second nature.”
Our lives are driven by habit and routine. In fact, most studies agree that close to 40% of our daily actions are driven by unconscious habits. In order to write consistently, you need to build a routine that gets you writing and gets rid of anything getting in the way.
Here are 3 of the most important writing habits and routines of best-selling authors and how RescueTime—the award-winning time management and productivity app—can help you stick to them.
We’re thrilled to be sponsoring NaNoWriMo 2018! Sign up for RescueTime today and get all our Premium features for free through NaNoWriMo. Find out more here.
1. Find the right time to write each day (and commit to it)
Let’s start with a bit of basic math. To hit your NaNoWriMo goal, you need to write 11,700 words a week. That’s no small feat for any writer (even the pros). But as everyone from Grisham to Haruki Murakami to Stephen King will tell you, writing novels is all about finding your optimal writing hours and sticking to them.
When Grisham first started writing novels, he followed a specific routine of getting up at 5 am, getting to his office, and writing his first words by 5:30 am. While Haruki Murakami follows a strict schedule of waking at 4 am and writing for 5–6 hours before going for a swim.
This isn’t to say you have to wake up at 4 or 5 am to write. But rather that you need to find the time that works best for you and that you can commit to every single day. RescueTime automatically tracks the time you spend on your digital devices and helps you plan out the exact time you need each day to hit your writing goals.
“RescueTime is like the Weight Watchers of time—helping me become aware of how I’m using my minutes and manage them better.”
2. Block distractions to stay motivated throughout your writing sessions
Back when I was in school, a professor told me that success as a writer comes down to BIC: Butt in Chair. When you’re halfway through NaNoWriMo and your motivation is waning, it’s easy to find excuses to give up. Instead, you need to block the distractions that try to take you away from your writing.
Willpower and commitment are powerful tools, not only for keeping you on track to hit your goals, but also to help you fight the deadly inner critic and get over the myth of the muse—the idea that you can only write when you “feel inspired.” For, as writer Neil Gaiman explains:
“If you’re only going to write when you’re inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you will never be a novelist—because you’re going to have to make your word count today, and those words aren’t going to wait for you, whether you’re inspired or not.”
RescueTime helps you stay motivated and committed by automatically blocking distracting websites and social media on your computer when you’re trying to write, while also giving you real-time nudges throughout the day to help you stay on track.
3. Set smaller, realistic goals and track your progress towards finishing your novel
Writing a 50,000 word novel in a month is hard, but doable. Yet unless you can dedicate enormous blocks of time to it you’re going to have to squeeze writing time into small chunks of the day. And while those chunks add up, you need to track your progress if you want to stay committed and hit your goal.
As author Jocelyn K. Glei says:
“Most of us make advances small and large every single day, but we fail to notice them because we lack a method for acknowledging our progress. This is a huge loss.”
RescueTime sends you weekly reports, detailing your actual writing time and progress and giving you advice on how to adjust your schedule to find time to write.
Every writer struggles with finding the time to write. Now, with RescueTime and NaNoWriMo, you have the tools and support you need to build a solid writing routine, fight distractions, and stay focused as you bring your characters and story to life in just 30 days.
Robby Macdonell is CEO of RescueTime—a time management and productivity tool used by hundreds of thousands of people to block distractions, understand their productivity, and find time to work on their most important tasks. Sign up for RescueTime today and get our Premium features for free through the month of November (with a deep discount on continuing subscriptions).