So.. Here we are one week left to go of NaNoWriMo. Today’s theme is Distraction Free Day, but we have put together 4 essential tips for you to have a Distraction Free week!
Writing your first novel, is quite a challenge. You keep staring at that white void in your word processor, and you think: ‘How on Earth am I ever going to get this done?’. It’s very tempting to just give in to your fears and doubts then, and just go do something easier.
During NaNoWriMo, you have to write almost 12,000 words per week. Are you on track? It’s a daunting and intimidating challenge for first-time novelists. But perfectly doable, if you have a good strategy that enables you to create a story without being distracted all the time. Just as an army general doesn’t go into battle without a solid plan, so should a writer have one before entering into the war of art.
Follow these strategies, and you’ll join the countless number of people that can proudly call themselves novelists.
Strategy #1 – Write In The Morning
“Why should it matter at what time of day I pick up my pen?”, you might ask.
Well, to be honest, a lot of writers have been successful despite each having his own different schedule and habits. Some write as soon as they get out of bed, others in the afternoon, while another might write in the depth of night. But that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be an optimal time to get your writing done.
As it stands, there has actually been scientific research into this. Studies have proven that people are actually most productive in the morning. This is linked to our circadian rhythm, which is our body’s internal biological clock. This rhythm causes our alertness and concentration to peak right after getting up, up until about noon, after which it starts to slide down again. And an increased level of focus will cause you to be much less be distracted. One key condition for this to work is that you don’t have a hangover from the night before. Getting to bed on time will also increase this strategy’s effectiveness.
Strategy #2 – Write Consistently
Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition. A modern stoic knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.’
- W. H. Auden
Since you’re still reading this, we have already established that you are, in fact, intelligent. All we need now is to establish a routine, and all the signs of ambition will be present.
All joking aside, using a set routine really might be the one most important strategies you can use. In fact, it can even be said that it is a critical element of success.
Writing consistently and implementing routine has many facets.
First of all, you have to write at a set time, and write every day. Even if you’re not going to follow Strategy #1, either because you have a job to go to, or you’re just really not a morning person, it’s still important to have a set time of day that’s dedicated to NaNoWriMo. Take your Google Calendar (or whatever it is you use to manage your time), and mark one or more hours per day for writing your story.
An second aspect of routine is that you set a minimum daily word count, and then make sure you get that amount done.
If you go about writing 500 words one day, 2000 words the next, and 300 words on Saturday, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Since you have to write 50.000 words during NaNoWriMo, that means about 1700 words per day, or 3-4 pages, which is perfectly doable on a daily basis. You don’t have to write a single word extra, but if you do, all the better.
Strategy #3 – Take Breaks / Use the Pomodoro Technique
If you’re writing for hours on end without any rest, your mind is definitely going to get exhausted. As a result, you’re going to run out of steam, and whatever you put down on paper just isn’t going to be top notch, even if you do get to the required amount of words.
That’s why it’s useful, crucial even, to take breaks when writing. However, we’re not talking about the kind of breaks where you watch five episodes of your favorite TV show. Short, intermittent breaks where you just let your mind recover a bit are really useful in accomplishing this goal. A really good tactic to use breaks is the Pomodoro Technique.
With the Pomodoro Technique, you write for an allotted amount of focused writing (typically 25 minutes), after which you take a five minute break, and resume working. After the fourth time, you take a longer break of about fifteen to thirty minutes. If you are the type of writer who really gets into ‘the zone’, then you can always make the focus session longer, but you might want to extend the breaks a bit too.
That way, you can stay fresh and focused throughout your insane writing frenzy.
Learn more how to do ‘Pomodoros’ here.
Strategy #4 – Use A Productivity App
It used to be that writers made use of pen and paper. Then came the typewriter, which made things a bit easier. Since a few decades, we have these things called personal computers, which are even more convenient. However, there’s a big drawback to writing on a PC.
You see, you can’t use a pen, a piece of paper or a typewriter to:
- Watch thousands of different movies and TV shows
- Play an equal amount of addictive video games
- Read news sites and blogs (like you’re doing right now)
- Watch funny cat videos on YouTube (hey, I’m guilty of this too)
- Communicate with the rest of the world through social media
- Browse a wide collection of naughty graphic materials
See the problem? That’s quite a list of distractions. Writers didn’t have all these luxuries in the past, and that probably made it a bit easier for them to get any work done. Talk about first world problems.
No worries, because every problem has a solution: FocusMe
Here’s what you can expect from FocusMe:
✓ Automated Productivity – You can set a schedule that automatically starts your website/app blocking at the scheduled times you set. You’ll never “forget” to turn on your productivity software again.
✓ Time Tracking – See where your time is going – view how much time you spend and how many times you open each website or application. All data is stored securely on your PC, not in the cloud.
✓ A More Flexible Website Blocker – Most other productivity software only allow you to block sites. FocusMe has a Time Limiter feature to set a daily time limit for your list of “distracting, but occasionally needed sites”, like Facebook, YouTube, Gmail, etc.
✓ Take Better Breaks – FocusMe has customizable break and Pomodoro timers built in. If your 10 minute break usually turns into an hour break, or you just can’t pull yourself away from the computer for the entire day then this is what you need.
✓ Impossible To Bypass – If your willpower gets weak FocusMe has your back. You can either make it very difficult to disable your website/app blocks, or downright impossible (not even I can get by the Forced Focus mode).
✓ Advanced Blocking Capabilities – You can set allow rules and only block sites that you find distracting. For example maybe you want to block most of reddit.com (sorry, Steve), but keep access to the parts you need for writing inspiration like reddit.com/r/writing/
My team and I are at the ready to make sure you get the most out of our software, if you have any questions or want help just shoot us a message or use our live chat service via focusme.com/support/
During NaNoWriMo, you’ll get top class support just like all our users do (read our reviews).
Whether you use FocusMe in November or not, we wish all Wrimos the very best of luck to complete your novels and keep focused!
p.p.s. Want to read more writing tips? Check out our article on our blog Distraction-free writing? 6 writing hacks you can do right now
Jon Rumens is the Creator of FocusMe, an app that’s dedicated to make the world (including yourself) more productive. As a former procrastinator, he has made it his mission to increase November’s worldwide novel output.