One thing I find writers face the most is dedicating time to their cause. Things like friends, family, and adult responsibilities usually get in the way. The top one is their full-time job. As you spend a minimum of 8 hours there, that only leave a few precious moments for cooking your evening meal, seeing friends, relaxing after a long day etc. it makes us wonder how we can dedicate enough time to writing 1667 words a day for a whole month.
1. Prepare the structure in advance
You have an idea, right? You have themes, so you know what it’s about. But what’s going to happen in your novel? I’m a panster (a seat of the pants writer rather than a meticulous planner) but I still need to know the main thrust of the journey so I can set out on a path to somewhere. The snowflaking model is highly popular and has the beauty of going from the very high-level overview (a one line summary) down to what the characters like to eat for breakfast. You may want to save the breakfast details as an expose in your novel but an overall ‘scaffolding’ will save you time in those frantic nano days. You can place yourself in an overall picture to which you add fine detail later. What I have found personally useful is jotting down the titles of ‘episodes’ that occur to me as I think about the story. These titles alone will serve as triggers and help ensure that I can get writing straight away. Ideally, I would have 30 or so of these episodes so it would be like a flash fiction piece and a bit, each day. This is less daunting and will guard against the paralysis of panic/block.
2. Get in character
There are probably going to be people in your novel, right? Do you know who they are? Are there enough of them? Why are they together, how do they know each other, what do they really think of each other? What do they like for breakfast or are they just pretending. Who do they look like? The woman who works at your corner shop? The bus driver? The striking self-possessed girl walking down the main street? While there is time left, while you travel to work, bring the kids to school, go to the football match or the nursing home, take notice of those around you, the little quirks of behaviour that interest you, the blast of white hairy eyebrows, the way the businessman examines his shoes. Think about the past and future of your characters. Knowing your characters gives you more to go on.
3. Schedule in a swim in the subconscious
We’re worried about not having time to complete 50,000 words in the available time and now I’m going to ask you to schedule time out of Nano, perhaps a whole day off along the way, or a day when you write just 500 words instead of 1667. There comes a time later in the month when you slip behind, so you need to be aiming for the 1800 mark in the early stages just to give you a breather later on. Musing on your story and characters before you begin is creating a well of associations and references on which you can draw while writing. This will help save time because the details and relationships between place, object and people will come thick and fast when you go to write, you won’t have to spend time making things up, you will be tapping into associations already made. Later in the month though the well will begin to run dry, you will begin to burn out. So you need to make space for the subconscious to beaver away again whether it's a day out walking or a cultural event, you need to take a relaxing swim in the subconscious and refill with further associations you can draw on.