Tonight marks the beginning of the last full weekend of Nanowrimo, and no matter where you are in your word count–unless you’re one of those lucky people who has already finished their novel–it’s important to make the most of your time. By creating specific goals and a detailed plan, you can balance your weekend between social commitments, housework and writing, and get a lot done.
Most people recommend working in short bursts and then taking short breaks. Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA suggested the Pomodoro Technique during her writing marathon last weekend, which involves working on something for a 25 minute period and then taking a five minute break. I personally find that how long I like to work on tasks depends on the task–often a blog post will take me a little bit less time to write, and I usually take a break between each one, but a chapter of my novel will take a bit longer.
Taking breaks is important so you don’t burn out, and you can choose to take a break from writing by making food, cleaning up a little bit, or just reading a book to recharge, depending on what you need to do. If you live with family or room mates, you can choose to spend your breaks from writing with them. Make sure that you time your breaks though, and have them be no longer than 15-20 minutes at the most, so you don’t lose steam.
To make your plan for this weekend, write down all the things you know you have to do, and what you want to work on this weekend. Include exactly how much work you want to get done on each project. If you have limited time, put numbers beside them to indicate their level of importance, so you can work on the most important ones first.
Decide how long you would like to work on each item on your list for, and choose a day to work on it. You can write it all out by the hour or write it out in two hour chunks, but I prefer just having daily to do lists instead of schedules by the hour or the half hour. Make sure that you have everything you need to write ready to go, and spend a few minutes outlining what you’d like to write this weekend so you don’t end up stalling.
Set up some sort of timer and get to work, taking regular breaks to recharge your brain. Don’t allow yourself to walk away from the computer until the timer goes off. Even if the writing is painful and slow, you’re bound to get something done if you force yourself to stare at the document for the entire time. If you’re feeling really stuck, re-read the last thing you wrote. Often that will give you a fresh idea for where to go.
What’s your main writing goal for this weekend?