NaNoWriMo Taught Me That I'm A Lazy Bastard

This year I took on the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a complete novel in 30 days for the second year in a row. I succeeded, and I'm proud of myself — but it also made me realise how much time I'm wasting the other 11 months of the year.

Picture by wisemandarine

After last year's NaNoWriMo experience, I wrote a post summarising what I'd learned from the experience. The biggest of those lessons was that scheduling writing time regularly every day was the only way to get it done, and I followed that process again this year. But it was more difficult to manage.

For starters, there was one big block of time already claimed. I had a four-day break scheduled in the middle of the month to help a friend move house, and I knew that I wouldn't get any writing done at all on those four days. So that meant what I wrote on the other 26 days was even more crucial.

Secondly, last year I was still running Lifehacker as one string of a freelance career. This year, it's my main full-time job. So novel writing had to be fitted into the evening. That's not impossible, but it made it harder to do anything socially. But I didn't mind, because the biggest thing I learnt last year was that I love writing fiction, and I want to do it more often. That was what gave me the incentive to schedule the time and get the job done.

So now NaNoWriMo is over for another year. I have a completed novel (you can read the blurb here if you're curious) OK: more realistically, I have a completed first draft, which I should be able to edit in a couple of months. We published a post on editing NaNoWriMo work earlier this week, and I'll follow some of its advice, although I did do quite a bit of editing along the way. (I don't see how people avoid this; you have to cross-reference and check details anyway.)

Beyond having to spend some time thinking about finally polishing up my e-publishing skills and getting one or both novels out the door, I've come to a realisation. If I'm capable of producing a novel draft in 30 days just by setting myself a deadline, I should be capable of getting more done. I've had two non-fiction book projects I've been researching in dribs and drabs all year, but neither is anywhere near as complete than my two novels. I can't blame anyone else for that; it's my fault.

I don't want to turn into a 24/7 workaholic, and taking breaks and having downtime is important. But if two hours a day gets a novel written in a month, I should be able to make those other projects happen faster.

My brother, Gizmodo editor Alex, also did NaNoWriMo this year and last, but has already suggested he will take a break next year. I don't think I will; in fact, I'll stand up now and state that I intend to participate in NaNoWriMo 2012. But I also need to make sure that next November isn't the next time I work on and complete the draft of a book. I need to make time for other projects between then and now. So if it turns out that I haven't come November next year, Lifehacker readers can line up and throw cabbages at me.

Picture by William Warby


Comments

    Time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted time.

    I'd rather be happy than have a 10 page list of achievements for my resume.

      >I’d rather be happy than have a 10 page list of achievements for my resume.

      Now there's a false dichotomy if every there was one. If I had a 10 page list af ochievements for my resume, I think I'd be a lot happier! Achieving stuff feels good in the long term. Relaxing in the evening doesn't.

        Maybe for you, What feels good to you evidentially does not to this person. I for one feel better wasting my time doing what I love more than making time for making achievements to put on a piece of paper I would have grown to despise so I could get a crap job in a company I don't feel passion for. I made a rule book for myself, in that rule book are 2 rules never work at a place you feel no love or passion for such as McDonalds or similar and to never bend to a last resort. This means that I will stick to what I love. If I love the work enough I don't care how hard it is if I were at McDonalds or did extra work somewhere else for credit I would hate myself and give up on the first day. To each their own but do not combat someone for what they get fulfilment for just because you get it somewhere else

    4 days to move house? Must have been a mansion. And if it was a mansion, surely they could afford professional removalists.

    I've never liked cabbage till now.

      No mansion required. And moving isn't just the shifting: there's cleaning and unpacking and assembling new furniture.

        Your friend is very lucky. Mine only ever help with the shifting!

    I wanted to pass along that whether or not they finished a NaNoWriMo novel, anybody can still win a cash prize for their first line in the NaNoWriMo Best First Line Contest—but hurry—the deadline has been extended but only to midnight Wednesday, December 7. There’s no entry fee, nothing to buy and the first prize is $100, 2nd is $50, 3rd is $25, and 7 runners-up win a copy of my book, “Your Writing Coach”. Details and entry at: http://www.NaNoWriMoContest.com (ignore the deadline on that site, it has been extended to midnight, Dec. 7).

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