This is a guest post by Tim from Illinois. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
I have tackled and completed the challenge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) the past two Novembers. It had always been a dream of mine to try writing and I had ideas that had been brewing for years. So when I came across NaNoWriMo I decided to go for it.
I never thought about how I managed to find the time, until I was asked to write this article. I don’t know that I did anything original or unique – it was mostly common sense, which is often in short supply in my life.
I was squeezing NaNoWriMo into a busy work schedule and a hectic family life (my wife and I have a 6 year old and 2 year old triplets). Here are my 5 steps to fit an ambitious new project into your life.
- Make the commitment and just get started. I did not write on November 1st and was feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. I had no idea how to get started and just about gave up on it – an unfortunate tendency I have. Instead, I got up at 5:00 A.M. on the 2nd turned on the computer and started writing.
- Find, eliminate and utilize the wasted time in your life. I quickly realized that mornings were not going work because I use that time to exercise. After the kids go to bed and I take care of chores I have a bad habit of sitting down and turning on the TV. That pretty much ensures nothing else productive gets done before exhaustion takes over. I decided to take a hiatus from TV for the month and use that time to write.
- Recognize your limits and adjust to them. I discovered a problem. I would write like gangbusters for a half hour or so and then would start getting sleepy. My solution was to make the writing my first priority. As soon as the kids were in bed I started writing and saved the household chores for second. It was much easier to fight off tiredness while writing at 8:00 than at 10:00 or later. I also stopped writing once I met my writing goals for the day so that other things could still get done.
- Take advantage of your existing support system. I am fortunate to have an amazing wife who encouraged and supported me in this effort. She was also willing to adjust her schedule to help me accomplish my goal. This allowed me to attend a couple of the ‘write-ins’ that were organized in my area. I did some of my best writing during these times and benefited greatly from the interaction with the other writers.
- Recognize that some other things won’t get done. Anytime you are trying to accomplish something big or start a new project other projects or goals will have to get put on hold. I let some other things go and tried not to let them distract or bother me.
I completed NaNoWriMo, writing more than 50,000 words and finishing a draft of my Novel, maintained my sanity and did not sacrifice my family or my job to do it. That was a huge accomplishment for me and doing it has helped me apply these common sense steps toward tackling some other goals in my life.
Photo by arquera