It’s the Final Countdown!

Duh-nuh-nuh-nuhhhh…neeneeneeneenee….

That’s my textual rendition of The Final Countdown.  You’re welcome.

My last post was about prepping for NaNo, and here we are but a few days away.

The novel I will be working on is an idea I’ve worked on before, but haven’t gotten completely off the ground.  I only have about 3,000 words on the project (though I won’t count those for NaNo).  Since I haven’t touched this project in probably 2 years, I’ve had to sink some time into getting back into the headspace of the story.  I’ve given my composition book a good long read and have gathered my thoughts.  I have a rough outline of plot points and the order in which I want to hit them, but that’s about it.  I don’t have things outlined chapter-by-chapter – that’s for when I have a rough (very rough) draft and I prepare to tighten things up in draft 2.

However, what I am really here to talk about is time management during NaNo.  I want to get this story out, and I have a great support system (the lunatics you read here being part of it), but do I have the time?

When I was in high school, we would complain about not having enough time to do homework, read for pleasure, go out with friends, etc.  When we did, my favorite teacher, Mr. V, would have us do something called a “1440.”

There are 1,440 minutes in a week.  The exercise is to go through your day and account for each minute.  How much time you spend sleeping, getting ready, eating, going to school, doing homework, etc.  Doing this sheds light on how you spend your time and might show you that you have more time than you think.

Let’s do a modified version of that to see if I will have time to do NaNo this year.

168 (hours in a week) – 56 (sleeping – yes, I’m a baby and need my 8 hours) – 31.5 (work) – 12 (showering/getting ready/morning commute) = 68.5 hours remaining

68.5 – 6 (in class) – 18 (the theory behind credit hours is for every credit hour you take, you should spend 3 hours outside of class working on it – I definitely use ALL of that) = 44.5 hours.

44.5 – 5 (eating, doing dishes, housecleaning) – 3 (fam time – school takes me away from my mom as it is, but she doesn’t need that much of me) – 7 (let’s be generous and give me an hour a day of buffer/relaxing time) = 29.5 hours remaining.

Wait…what?  No, that can’t be right.  I have literally no time in my life, but it seems that after all of that, I still have time to have a second job (to be fair, it’s football season, so 6 hours of my Saturday is doing that – Roll Tide, #outworkyesterday, and Go Ducks, #wintheday).

I work part-time, go to school part-time, and am single with no kids.  If I think I have no time to do NaNo, I am dead wrong.

The general formula for NaNoWriMo is you write 1,667 words a day.  The average person types 40 wpm, which means if you get on a roll, you can bang out 1,667 words in under 45 minutes.  If you’re like me, you tend to get super distracted by your writing group (I’m looking at you, Air and Brogums).  So sometimes it takes me upwards of 3 hours to get 1,667 words – plus there’s brainstorming and thinking to be done.

But even if I take 3 hours a day to write, I’m still left with 8.5 hours to spend however I please (Seinfeld marathon!).

If you are going to go crazy and try and fit NaNo into what you think is an already full schedule, allow me to offer a few tips…

  1. Take care of yourself.  Stay hydrated, stay well-fed (mix in some protein and veggies into all that junk food you’ll be fueling yourself with).
  2. Write something.  Even if you think it’s crap or garbage, don’t skip a day.  Even if you don’t write all 1,667 words, write something.  Some days you’ll be on a roll and write 2,000+ words, and some days you’ll struggle to write 200 words.  I’ve learned that sometimes my brain just needs to get the cliched crap out of my head before it can get to the good stuff.  Heck, if you end NaNo with only 25,000 words, that’s 25,000 more words than you had at the beginning of November!  And at your leisure, you can edit, revise, change, delete, and add to those words.
  3. Find a support system. I’m lucky enough to have an online group of writers as my support system.  We meet in a chatroom – some people go in every day and others of us pop in a few times every few months, but we always seem to find our way back come NaNo season.  These are people with whom I can talk about characters, run ideas by, commiserate about writer’s block, celebrate accomplishments, and mourn the garbage I’ve typed that day.  When I feel like giving up, they remember how much I do want to accomplish my goal and yell, scream, and threaten me into writing (that’s all Air).

The question remains – are my estimates accurate? Will I actually have enough time to do NaNo while keeping my sanity and schoolwork in line? What will be the first sacrifice if I find I don’t have enough time?

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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