Though I’m tempted to hole up for a month to write a novel, I still have my daily duties and monthly minds. I’m batching together the important chores – pay the bills, check the bank statements and credit card balances, and verify all the important paperwork is updated – so my head will be free of obvious obligations before beginning my project. After the jump, I’ll outline my plans for taking care of these potential procrastination priorities.
Look over your calendar for November 2020.
Two notes of apology to begin. First, I only got the inspiration to dive into NaNoWriMo yesterday, otherwise, this essay would have published in early September or October. Second, this essay will cover boring financial information, which if you don’t have to consider, lucky you.
Return to looking at your calendar for November 2020.
What obligations are on your calendar? I work night shift, so I have to have everything on my calendar or I’ll forget about it, and I don’t mind sharing this information because it is vague and ephemeral: I’ll meet with two friends, attend two doctors’s appointments, and other than working full-time, I have no other events. That means my schedule will be booked throughout the entirety of this month with most moments dedicated to writing: before and after work, on my days off, and using the drive time or time away from my laptop to think about what I’ll write. After all, if the physical act of writing is merely a reflection of the thoughts we’ve accumulated, then the more you think about what you write, the easier it gets.
How about less glamorous goals?
I pay my bills to start each month. I’ve lived in the apartment-mansion for enough months to know when certain bills register as payable, so I don’t waste time checking to see if the bill is available at 4am on the 1st. I have these on my calendar, too, and after I’m done with a task on my calendar I’ll delete it, so all that’s left when I look at previous months are past birthdays and holidays. If possible, I’ll do as much of the seldom-considered chores as possible, like checking to see when my car insurance needs to be renewed, and squaring that away so my time starting on November 1st is clear.
Speaking of distractions, how about outlets?
Through my three years of writing frequently, and writing 500 words daily for so long that I track when I last missed a day [back in January 2019; just by 210 words], I’ve learned to predict my pacing and procrastination. I can write essays like this in about 30-45 minutes depending on how fancy I want to get with the word choices or research. I write fiction slower, but that’s just because it’s easier to write a paragraph of opinion than imagine a scene and write it down intelligibly. I write faster when I can just slam it down rather than when I’m in my WordPress editor where I’m tempted to fiddle around with hyperlinks and extensive spell checking, too.
When those elements get unclear, that’s when I procrastinate.
If I know that I have exactly 30 minutes to write before starting work, then I’m laser-focused on writing for that amount of time, until I either finish my writing or I am physically exhausted. I can usually tell within the first minute or three based on how clearly the words form. If the flow of writing is like the flow of water, if it’s not a gusher, spraying words out at such an incredible speed that it floods the page, then there might be something more biological to concern myself with first.
This is why it’s important to “pay your bills” in all aspects.
You’ve gotta pay your bills to all aspects of your self – see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – before you can self-actualize in the form of fiction writing. You can’t write fiction if you’re in the middle of some bigger project. I couldn’t write fiction while I was moving because my head was focused on moving. That’s why I’ll try to schedule my physiological needs throughout the day and week. I can, for example, figure out how often I need to use the restroom based around what kind of foods I prepare for myself to eat, which is why I try to limit my diet to plain foods or things I cook myself.
I can’t risk food poisoning if I’ve got 30 days to write “a novel.”
Other than the physiological risks and societal risks, my biggest risk is giving into procrastination too much. I don’t get distracted too often with movies or videogames, however, online videos and social media are a significant distraction for me, and if I don’t have those as outlets, my mind will be too overworked to actually want to do anything other than “nothing.” These are things I can predict and moderate. A few minutes of downtime is healthy. Hours of downtime is not if you’re trying to keep a schedule.
There is still a need for outlets.
Though I can limit myself to grocery shopping weekly – only because I like fresh-enough bread for my utilitarian sandwiches – that doesn’t satiate my urges to live the retail experience, so whereas normally I might use a day off to go explore some new area for a few hours, when I’m in novel-writing mode, I think I’ll have to schedule that time to go to a thrift store or two. I moderate myself by only browsing for books, which, although I’ve committed myself to read daily, I think it will be counterproductive for me to read while writing at this pace.
If I’m used to writing 500 words daily up, and only recently stretched myself to 1000 words, 2000 words will be a stretch.
The next 16-plus essays will explore how I’ll do that.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: I didn’t read over the NaNoWriMo prep guide because I already know what I must do.|
|Related: Other 2019 Novel writings.|
|Picture: Don’t waste time on bullshit.|
|Written On: October 23rd [4:59am-5:52am]|
|Last Edited: October 23rd [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|