Time Management for WriMo’s November 05 2014

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Just like how some of us are naturally morning people and can bounce right into the day’s action and some of us don’t really come fully awake until the sun has gone down and find ourselves exceedingly productive while the rest of the world is asleep, so too are writers. I am a nocturnal writer, and find that I work most effectively and creatively between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Often when I am trying to sleep, my brain is exploding with ideas and inevitably I must get up and drag my laptop into bed with me and start typing in earnest. My best friend, and writing buddy, is the kind of person who logs all of her words before I have even considered being awake and writes like a madwoman from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m.

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Day Writers
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Night Writers

The key is to find that peak restless hour where your brain demands your attention and is like, “Yo, write this down!” That is when you should be writing. Many of us don’t know when this hour is yet, so it is important to try writing at different times of the day until you have one really productive session, then repeat, repeat, repeat!

However, not everyone can afford to write at the time they feel most comfortable. While I am at heart a nocturnal writer, my lifestyle now demands a 9–5 commitment of my time that does not allow me to stay up carefree until two in the morning writing my heart out. If I did so I would be fired immediately because I would show up for work the next day like the grouchiest zombie in existence. While I love to stay up late, I also love sleep. My schedule needed to be adjusted.

Examining what a typical day looked like now, I spend two unused hours on the train to work and two on the way home. I also usually spend my lunch break playing on Twitter when I could be using that time to write. I use these freed up hours to carve out my new writing routine and while they felt strange at first, like trying to shove my foot into a shoe two sizes too small, eventually my brain trained itself to know that these were now writing times.

Many writers find their peak time is around 10 am, the time of the day where, if you work in an office, you will find you are most awake and likely the most productive. In theory, you should be working; however, in November when every hour that ticks by is more words lost, you have to seize every opportunity! In his guide to NaNoWriMo No Plot? No Problem!, Chris Baty gives insider tips on how you can get away with writing at work and not get caught:

1. Try not to tell any of your co-workers about your novel until it is almost finished.

As Baty explains, if your entire office knows what you are up to, everyone will naturally assume you are leeching company time to write, even when you are actually doing work.

2. Be prepared to never be able to really lose yourself in your novel because your guilty conscience will know you are supposed to be working.

For this reason it is best to leave any complicated or sexy scenes for when you get home and work on material you have already plotted out in the office.

3. Save to a flash drive, not your work computer.

Baty stresses: “Never let your novel touch your work computer’s hard drive.” This is for two reasons: you never know who could be using your work computer and may stumble upon your work in progress, and also, this way you will always be saving your work to the same location and can take it with you anywhere. Despite this precaution your novel file will still appear on your computer in places like the “recently opened” drop down, and others. Help yourself out by naming your document something unassuming like “presentation_draft.doc.”

4. Memorize they keyboard shortcut to cover your file with another at a moments notice.

Experienced veterans who write at work always have another file open along side their novel, which they can use to cover up the fact that they aren’t actually working. With a few quick keystrokes all someone will see when they look at your monitor is that innocent Excel file, and you can easily toggle back to your novel when the coast is clear.


Whenever and however you find the time, make sure you strive to reach 1666 words per day. The first week is a time of experimentation, creative outpouring, and fun, but we promise it gets harder in week two, so stick with us!