Writing a marathon

Nanowrimo pep talks have often compared the challenge to a marathon, and it makes a lot of sense. Writing a book in a month is about both writing quickly and having the energy to write every day or as close to every day as possible for an entire month. That’s a long time when you’ve just begun your writer’s path, and even for someone who’s been writing for years it can be hard to stay productive all month long.

But now the last 48 hours have hit, and it’s time for a different kind of marathon, the one where instead of writing every day for a month you write as much as possible in one day. If you’ve got the day off and an unfinished novel, can you finish your novel tomorrow? How close can you get? How many words can you pound out now that we’ve hit crunch time?

For an effective marathon of writing, you need the following:

1. Writing time. Clear out as much of your day as you can, and set out which hours you’re going to spend writing and when you’ll allow yourself breaks. You will need breaks, to stretch and stand up, go to the bathroom and grab a drink and possibly even to eat something. Plan out how regular and how long these will be so you don’t end up spending most of your day on break.

2. Caffeine and/or sugar. Go out and get some chocolate tonight if you’re out, and make sure you have plenty of your favourite beverage–most writers I know seem to have a fondness for coffee, though I prefer Dr.Pepper–and your favourite snack lying around to keep you energized and motivated.

3. A goal. Your goal might be to finish your novel tomorrow, or to write ten thousand words, or possibly just to get as close to the end as you can. What’s essential is that you have a goal, so you’ll be able to tell if your marathon was successful or not.

4. An iron will. It’s the last day of November and Nanowrimo, so inevitably you’ll get eight hundred calls and two hundred emails, and all your friends will want to hang out. Say no, don’t go to any parties, and remember your end goal. This is the last day of Nanowrimo, and you want that novel finished, so don’t agree to anything until it’s done. It’s hard to say no when friends want to hang out on your day off, but tomorrow you have to do it. If you’re American, Thanksgiving might make this harder, but carve out as much writing time as you possibly can–your family should admire your dedication and respect your wishes, and you should never feel bad demanding your own time.

And once you have gathered all of these things, it’s time to get to work–let’s make these 48 hours count.

2 thoughts on “Writing a marathon

  • So did you make it? Or are you working on it now and I’m distracting you?

    I hope you made it. Or make it. Whatever. I’m pulling for you.

    I should mention: if you’re interested, I pay for short stories and/or there is a contest at my website, “lit, a place for stories.” So when you finish that NaNoetcetc, check it out and feel free to submit something:


    Do NOT worry about the URL. It used to be something of a sports blog but then I changed it and I’m too cheap to pay $10 to Google to get a different URL, but also the many pictures of Erin Andrews buried in the old pages help with the SEO. Or so I’m told. Now go finish your novel. I want to find out what happens to that assassin. Did the dragon get him?

    • dlgunn

      Hi Briane,

      Welcome to The Dabbler! I am currently doing my writing marathon, and I’ll be writing until midnight with about an hour and a half of interruption to go get some food. Thanks for sending me the link, I’ll definitely see if I have something I can send you, but I doubt you’ll want my Nano–it’s far from short. Also, the assassin’s a girl and she’s friends with the dragon rider, interestingly enough.

      Thanks for stopping by,

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