NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. That’s right fellow writers, the month of writing is approaching swiftly. Grab those novel ideas, brush off your notebooks, go cry in a corner. Do whatever it is you do to get ready for NaNoWriMo. Going into my eighth year of NaNoWriMo, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what to expect and what needs to get done ahead of time to be successful. However, as a blogger, I now have to find a way to balance my blogging responsibilities and writing a novel. Sounds hard, doesn’t it? Balancing NaNoWriMo & blogging can be a bit of a challenge. Yet, it is not impossible. It merely takes a bit of preparation and a lot of commitment.
For those who are new to NaNoWriMo, it is a month-long challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days which happens every November. That means, writing 1667 words each day in order to hit 50,000 words by November 30th. For more information, be sure to visit the NaNoWriMo official site.
Balancing NaNoWriMo & blogging
Make writing your priority
This one seems blatantly obvious. Yet, it can be hard to put your attention fully on your writing, especially when you are also blogging.
However, it’s important to shift your focus from working on your blog to writing your novel. Here’s the thing to remember: NaNoWriMo is only 30 days long but your blog is there all of the time. It’s okay to spend more time on your writing than your blog. In fact, I encourage it. For this month, put your energy into creating words for your story. Yes, you can absolutely still write blog posts at this time. Just don’t lose yourself in blogging and forget all about your novel.
Telling yourself to sit down and write may sound effective. However, it doesn’t always work. You need to truly train yourself to sit down and write. After all, for the next thirty days, you aren’t just anyone, you are a WRITER! Be the writer you want to be. Sit down and pour out all those words you have been holding inside. The best way to do this is the schedule writing daily writing time – more on this later.
This is multifaceted, as you must plan ahead for your blog, your NaNoWriMo writing, and life.
For the most part, planning out your novel is something you should do before tackling NaNoWriMo. Now, there is a category of writers known as ‘pantsers’ who write by the seat of their pants. They do not require a full-blown outline and character sheets to be able to write. If you fall into this category, then I applaud you. I have tried pantsing before, and I’m not going to lie, it was extremely stressful on my plotter heart.
The other category of a writer is the ‘plotter’. Those who need to plan out what will happen in their novels and know as many details as possible before committing to writing a single word. I am a plotter. This means creating the main outline, timeline, character sheets, maps and a variety of other reference material that I keep close at hand. This is where planning ahead is key. Most, if not all of this work needs to be done before NaNoWriMo starts. After all, if you are spending your writing time plotting instead of writing then you aren’t going to hit your word count
Even if you are only just now considering joining in on NaNoWriMo, spend the rest of October planning out that novel. That little bit of effort now will make a world of difference in November.
As a blogger, you already know the importance of planning ahead. You likely have a list of blog posts you want to explore in the coming weeks or months. Perhaps you even have some post drafts sitting waiting to be finished. The weeks before NaNoWriMo starts is the perfect time to polish those blog posts and get them scheduled.
Perhaps you don’t have enough posts to get you through the month while you focus on writing your novel. That’s okay. Even if you have the first week or two of posts figured out, that puts you ahead. The point is, know what you want to do on your blog during the month. The more prep work you do now will make your blogging and writing life so much easier.
Yes, even your life needs to be planned ahead during NaNoWriMo. This will ensure that you keep up with your responsibilities at home, stay in contact with your family and that you eat proper meals. I highly suggest creating a meal plan for the month. It’s easy to make and can reduce the burden of figuring out what to eat. You don’t want to waste your thinking on what meal you want to make that day when you should be deciding between two paths that your character could be taking. NaNoWriMo is a great time to use the slow cooker for meals. Doing this allows you to spend only a few minutes preparing food and then focusing on your writing.
Even though we have made writing a priority for the month, it’s important to spend time with family. Plan for these times, and even schedule them in, to ensure you are giving them your attention throughout the month. You could plan something like a movie or game night, that gives you a break from writing and allows for quality family time.
Schedule, schedule, schedule!
You must schedule many things in advance. Bloggers already schedule so much of their daily and weekly posts that this will be second nature. Yet it goes so much more beyond this.
As a blogger, you likely already have a schedule you use. So, I won’t beat you with details on this. Stick with what you have been doing. Just make sure those posts get scheduled so you don’t have to worry about them.
Most importantly, you need to schedule your writing time. Remember, we are making this a priority for the month of November. What time you set aside in your schedule for writing is up to you. It can be in the morning, mid-day, evening or spread throughout the course of the day. What matters is you not only schedule that time but stick to it.
Now, there may be times when your scheduled writing time turns into something else. Be it taking a walk outside, playing a board game with family or even relaxing in front of the TV – just try not to do the latter too often. However, that doesn’t mean this is wasted time. Keep a notebook and pen with you at all times. That way, even if you are out for a walk, you can quickly jot down an idea that comes to you. Then, once back at your computer you can get back to writing and expand that idea. This may seem counter-intuitive to the entire idea of scheduling your writing time, but I can assure you that sometimes those breaks in routine are just what your writing brain needs.
Social media schedule
Schedule as many tweets, Facebook posts, and Pinterest pins. Basically, if it can be scheduled in advance then do it. The less time you need to spend on social media the better. We all know how distracting it is to glance at Twitter or Facebook. Don’t lose yourself in the social media rabbit holes.
Set aside a certain amount of time each day to check all of your accounts. This is when you can reply to comments, like what fellow bloggers are posting and ensure your account doesn’t go dormant as you focus on writing.
Meals and life schedule
One thing you can’t ignore is the need to eat, drink and complete tasks in your daily life. This is where planning ahead and scheduling comes in handy. Decide and schedule not only what you are going to eat but who will cook. Ideally, it would be great to split the cooking between all the family members. Better yet, if you can manage it, get your family to cook every meal for the month to allow you to focus more time and energy into writing.
Be sure to schedule some downtime. Yes, we are focusing on writing, but we don’t want to burn ourselves out either. Schedule that movie or game night. Schedule a day to go walk through the park. Something to get your away from the computer and putting your mind on another task for a short while. I personally make sure to set aside time for regular walks. After all, between blogging and NaNoWriMo, you will be spending a LOT of hours sitting.
Cut back on social media
I can almost hear the collective gasp. “Cut back on social media? I can’t do that!” You can, and you will. This is why scheduling is so important. With many of your tweets, facebook posts and Pinterest needs already scheduled, you can easily take a step back from social media. That doesn’t mean that you have to completely ignore your social media accounts for 30 days. After all, that would probably affect your blog negatively. Hence why we already made sure to schedule social media time. Even taking that into consideration, you need to put a conscious effort into spending only your scheduled time on social media.
That’s how balancing NaNoWriMo & blogging is done! It’s a lot to take in, especially with such a short time before NaNoWriMo started. Just remember, you can do it. Don’t forget to get your NaNoWriMo survival kit ready. It really can make the difference some days between getting your writing done or not.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?