On My Mind: Evaluating Writing Habits

November is now over and we have time to reflect on what happened last month. Some of you are winners, most of you have tried their best and didn’t make the finish line. But every single one of you will have learned something this month, and that’s just as important as having tried or won. And with that, everyone becomes a winner.

I definitely learned something about my writing process. Especially combined with the rest of my life. I’ll remember these lessons as I create a new writing schedule for non-NaNo months.
Some of these lessons I’ve already talked about in my NaNo-prep post, but it doesn’t hurt to add them to this list.

Don’t forget family and friends

Don’t forget to spend time with your partner and children (if you have them). Call your mother if you don’t have time to visit her. Take a break from writing to visit your niece on her birthday (you’ll probably get cake, so win-win?).

Have lunch with a friend, because you have to eat anyways, right? But that hour away from your writing desk might give you more ideas and inspiration than you might expect.

Don’t forget the people who support you. They will be there when things aren’t going well, but they also want to celebrate your success with you.

Don’t forget other obligations and responsibilities

We adopted a puppy in May, but with another living being in your care, your responsibilities increase as well. Walking her, feeding her, playing with her, training her, basic dog-care. I can’t put her aside, so I plan my day around her needs as well.

Don’t forget your health

No, I definitely don’t agree that you have to write when you’re sick. I have chronic pains, my joints often let me down and breathing is challenging on cold days. I know I have to take it slow on bad days, because it’ll only get worse if I don’t. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t write at all, but I shouldn’t over do it.

You can’t write when you’re dead. Take care of yourself and do whatever has to be done.

Your writing speed

NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to learn and study your writing speed. I can do 500 words in half an hour, when I’m in the zone. This doesn’t happen often or only happens after I’ve already written a few hundred words. I can’t rely on this number to happen every time.

When to write

It doesn’t really matter if you’re a morning person or night owl, everyone has different times when their energy bursts. How you take advantage of yours, is up to you. I do agree, however, that each person has a limited jug of creative juice a day. So doing other creative tasks before you write can take away the fuel you need to power through your daily word count. Spend your energy wisely.

My day job taught me that the times between two and three thirty in the afternoon is a great time for me, creatively. I can also be very productive between ten and twelve in the morning, but not for creative tasks. The period between ten and twelve at night is another creative moment. It sucks that this late hour is also the period in which I have to go to bed.

What to write

I have the luxury that I can pick what I write on a daily basis: fiction or non-fiction. I can choose to write for Narratess or my gaming blog if I want to write non-fiction. For fiction I have a wide variety of choices in genres and lengths of projects I’m working on. This isn’t ideal for someone who can’t multitask stories, but for me it works very well. I’m actually more productive if I can switch projects when my mood changes. I know I can get my words done and make progress regardless of what my mental state of mind is.

I actually started writing this blog because I could barely make any progress in the fiction department, but words are flowing while writing this. I know this goes against the whole idea of ‘stop waiting for your muse to show up’, but my muse is a weirdo. I can’t trust him, even when he does show up.

How much to write

Could you manage to write 1667 words per day? Was it easy or something you had to fight for? I noticed that in my region after day ten the increase of words written became less each day. People aim for the stars at the beginning of the month and then find out that they can’t keep up.

One of my NaNoWriMo buddies has been writing daily for years, sometimes several posts per day. She finished the 50k early. I definitely admire that, because I know that I can’t do that. I’m not a sprinter. I’m a marathon runner, and a slow one at that. Writing 1667 words a day was a challenge. The days the words came easy were less numerous than the days that I had to fight to get them all, or more, because I had to catch up. The reason those days were challenging was because I was still holding on to the concept of working on one project during NaNoWriMo, and that just something that I can’t do.

Once I started to switch things up and decided that every project I worked on counted for my daily word target, the words came more easily and those 1667 words weren’t as much of a challenge. I know that I can write 1000 to 1500 words a day when I can tackle different projects. I can still set a weekly word target for a novel and a hard deadline for short stories to keep me on the right track.

A new writing schedule

Writing seven days a week is asking a lot from me. My health isn’t the best and NaNo asks a lot of energy. I need my weekend to regenerate my energy levels and creative juices. Maybe even do things to come up with new ideas for my stories. A free weekend also gives me more time do social events or do some extra chores at home. And if I still want to write, I can.

With a daily word target of 1000 – 1500 I will have enough time to write both fiction and non-fiction while building a platform, my writing business and taking care of the household. That does mean that I have to work harder during the week, but I have two whole days to recover. Jumping back into a normal working routine will probably benefit my health as well.

I’ll set weekly targets for my larger projects and deadline for my shorter ones. I already have a notebook where I’ll keep track of all my projects and deadlines, so this won’t be too hard. I hope that this method will help me finish more projects faster than I’ve done so far.

I’m working on a spreadsheet to keep track of my writing habits. It will track how much words I write for each type of project, project, how much words I’ve written per day, per month, per project. When it’s done, I’ll make the template available for you to use as well. I don’t have much experience with spreadsheets, so I’ll borrow my husband’s knowledge to create it. This tool will be a must have for writers who want to know more about their writing habits.

What have you learned the past month? Will you keep writing daily? Share your NaNo experiences with us below!

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